The heavily pregnant woman, who had complications with her pregnancy, flew in from Nigeria for a caesarean section
The Manchester Evening News has an interesting story about a so-called ‘health tourist’ who travelled more than 3,000 miles from her home country to a hospital close to the city’s airport to give birth.
The woman travelled from her home in Nigeria to Manchester Airport and went to Wythenshawe Hospital where she told medical staff she needed a caesarean as a scan in her home country revealed complications with the pregnancy.
Health minister Simon Burns said the NHS is “not there to serve the health needs of the globe” and said the government is reviewing the system to prevent inappropriate use of NHS resources.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh, is also calling for an urgent inquiry into the case.
The NHS treats thousands of patients from outside the European Union who are not entitled to free care and hospitals in 2010/11 charged overseas visitors more than £23m for treatment and wrote off just under £7m of debts.
Hospitals often struggle to recoup their costs and seek help from embassies. They can inform Border Agency which can block the return of any health tourist who leaves bills of more than £1,000 unpaid.
Nigeria offers free maternity care but it is not of a good quality and there is a high mortality rate where women have a one in 13 chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth.
A hospital source described her a “health tourist” and said she had required resources, including midwives, two urology consultants, a radiology consultant, two obstetric consultants and two anaesthetists in the delivery room. The treatment cost around £10,000.
Mother and baby were released from hospital this week, it is understood and she has flown home with her baby. The hospital will now try to bill her for treatment but it has no powers to force her to pay.
A hospital spokesman said: “At Wythenshawe, as with all hospital trusts across the UK, the care we deliver to all patients is free at the point of delivery. If a patient is a non-UK resident and treatment is considered necessary or urgent then treatment would never be withheld.” The hospital adheres to guidelines issued by the Department of Health over reclaiming costs from non-UK residents who use its services.
As soon as a non-UK patient arrives, the finance team are alerted and the individual is made aware, where applicable, of the costs they are liable for as outlined in the national tariff.
“Every effort is then made to pursue any monies owed.”
A hospital source claimed it is targeted by health tourists because of its close proximity to the airport – just over two miles away.
Last year, the government announced a crackdown on ‘health tourism’ and guidelines on how to curb it.
The health minister, Simon Burns, said: “We won’t tolerate abuse of our national health service. The NHS has a duty to anyone whose life or long-term health is at immediate risk but it is not there to serve the health needs of the globe.
“There are comprehensive rules and procedures to charge visitors for hospital treatment but we know that the system needs to be improved.”
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “We need a full inquiry into the circumstances and how the hospital has been left in this position. There are clear rules about health tourism and the NHS must be able to recover its costs.”
University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust – which runs the hospital – is having to cut £17.5m over the current financial year, bringing its total savings for the past three years to £47m.
Need a Loan? Visit Secured Loans Broker.
View full post on Free Secured Loans Advice