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Experts & Stakeholders Lament Depletion of Resources Due to Health Tourism as Nigerian Woman Racks Up About £350,000 Bill at UK Hospital

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A Nigerian woman, who is yet to be identified racked up a £350,000 bill at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (a National Health Service Trust) in the UK, after she had a caesarean section in 2015.

According to DailyMail, “the shocking figure exposes the scale of abuse of the crumbling NHS by health tourists”.

She was transferred to there from another hospital because of pregnancy complications. Her twins then spent two months in intensive care.

All NHS Trusts are mandated to treat patients first before requesting for any form of patients and this is thought to cost about £280 million a year, with health tourists using the most of that amount.

A spokesman for Luton and Dunstable, in response to a mail sent by DailyMail to all hospitals in England, said that the woman is owing the hospital £348,683.

“This patient was an overseas visitor and was referred to us by another hospital because of complications with her twin pregnancy.”

“As an NHS Trust we cannot refuse to treat a patient, wherever they are from, if there is a danger to life. In this case two unborn babies required immediate care.”

“They were delivered safely but spent two months in our Neonatal Intensive Care and High Dependency units. This is the reason for the high cost and we are currently pursuing the patient for payment,” the spokesperson said.

“The responses from 90 hospitals revealed that 13,077 overseas patients were treated in the UK in 2015-16, including 3,066 mothers who flew in to have their babies.

These women were responsible for some of the highest debts and a significant number are understood to have come from Nigeria.

Imperial College Hospitals in West London said it was chasing a £319,895 bill for a woman who gave birth to triplets. Staff at the trust have since disclosed that this autumn they looked after a 43-year-old Nigerian woman who gave birth to quads. She went into premature labour on the flight to London and one of the babies died.

The costs of caring for the surviving three infants have passed £100,000 and staff predict a final bill of half a million pounds.

Doctors are faced with a dilemma over eligibility because they are obliged to provide immediate medical care regardless of a patient’s nationality or whether they can pay. Experts say our hospitals are being targeted, in particular by wealthy Nigerian mothers-to-be,” Daily Mail said.

According to the report, in 2011, another Nigerian, Bimbo Ayelabola, racked up a bill of £145,000 in giving birth to quintuplets in Homerton Hospital, East London and has not paid the money back.

“Ayelabola has since returned to her home city of Lagos, where she is a makeup artist. She drives a £17,000 car and her five children attend an expensive private school. In 2015 she told the Daily Mail she had never been sent a bill by the NHS. She added: ‘If (health tourism) is a problem, you should talk to the NHS. I have never received my bill. If I had it, I would pay it’,” the report added.

Experts and stakeholders are complaining of the eligibility of patients to access the health services, adding that the NHS Trusts cannot continue to fund “international health service”.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘The NHS is in a critical state due to lack of resources, so any abuse from health tourism should be stopped. The sums of money are astonishing. Most patients would be concerned about the vast sums of money not being reclaimed and the potential for this money to be spent on frontline services and staff – which could improve the quality of care and the time in which people receive care.’ 

Professor Meirion Thomas, a cancer surgeon who formerly worked at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said: ‘These massive debts are staggering and should be investigated by NHS fraud officers. Patients don’t arrive at specialist hospitals with serious illnesses by chance. It is likely there are facilitators and accomplices who enable this fraud. They may be friends or relatives or even health professionals.’

Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘This has been a longstanding problem and it costs millions a year. We need the Health Service to implement a system whereby the person going in for treatment has a right to have it or has the means to pay.’

Andrew Bridgen, another Tory MP, said: ‘Those who are not eligible for free healthcare must pay. If we don’t address this issue it will only grow.

‘There appears to be huge reluctance amongst clinicians not to charge people for free healthcare. We cannot afford to fund an international health service.’

14 Comments

  1. NYC

    January 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    SHUT THE HECK UP BRITAIN! !!I am a citizen but detest you with a passion for your slack loose and weak laws…you’re crying out wolf when like the woman said she ain’t received no bill…you are not doing what u should be doing as a country but making noise. .shut up outta here!..God bless American Amen!!!!

    • Mannie

      January 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      What a non sequitur!!

    • moi

      January 17, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      if i receive the bill I will pay- for real
      N72.5million
      How much did u pay before you left Britain?

  2. Rose

    January 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Why do you use hospital service and not made a payment but claim you have not received any bill. Seriously

  3. Weezy

    January 17, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    How about requiring overseas health insurance before treating a nonresident?

    • Sisi

      January 17, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Assessing someone as non resident confidently requires seeing paper work before treatment, concluding they have no medical insurance the same. The NHS has a duty to treat before requesting anything which is an extremely noble and commendable act by a foreign government that has no duty to care for non residents. People are taking advantage of that and some are commenting that the UK are stupid for it. It’s because the Nigerian governments doesn’t put its own citizens health as a priority talkless of outsiders. If they say this is typical ‘Nigerian’ behaviour of essentially ‘scamming’ they will say they are racist. Kmt, shameful. I hope they recover the funds but know they are unlikely too. A note should be placed on their files blocking all future entry to the UK until debt cleared. The NHS is one of the greatest safety nets of modern society and should be replicated elsewhere making up for the shortfalls of the lack of efficient process in place for nonresidents.

    • me

      January 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Because they r not as wicked as Nigerians who demand money first before treating a sick man… after all wot is this life worth we will all die someday ….rather they should have held the person down after treatment…

    • fredmefes

      January 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Before applying for a UK Visa, health insurance is part of the payment for non-resident visa applicants,.So the UK should stop playing the victim as not all visitors require health care but all are forced to pay including unsuccessful applicants.

    • Someone

      January 19, 2017 at 6:11 am

      This is not true.
      Health insurance is for schengen visa. NOT UK visa

  4. skyhigh

    January 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    all this people that be posing that they went to america to give birth probably take off after the birth leaving it for Medicaid to deal with …not fair ..if they demanded payment before service loads of us will sit our asses in nigeria

    • Nuna

      January 18, 2017 at 10:17 am

      The US is not UK. If as a non resident/ citizen you refuse to pay ur bills or use any form of govt assistance, you can kiss ur chances of successfully renewing ur visa goodbye

  5. Marian

    January 17, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Some Nigerians can be evil sha. So now that she’s been made aware of the bill, has she reached out to pay? They will soon mess it up for others and make the process more difficult in the future.

  6. Tosin

    January 18, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I don’t know how to put this, I feel like at this advanced stage in economic development, there should just be health care and it should just be paid for. Whether tourist or visitor, there’s got to be funding in there somewhere to cover the cost of their babies’ care. Am I being unreasonable?

  7. zaza

    January 18, 2017 at 3:05 am

    This is so sad and because at the end of the day the taxpayers will have pay off the debt, not fair. Solution- Make all Nigerians visiting the UK to have a mandatory health insurance that way any health expenses can be claimed back.

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