The NHS has been left with bill amounting to £29,520,378 due to unpaid bills racked up by overseas patients. These patients, not entitled to free treatment, are able to travel to the UK to receive treatment but are expected to pay for the services- though many leave the UK before doing so and continue to dodge fees.
The true outstanding figure is probably even higher given the data does not include those who were never asked to pay by simple virtue of having a UK address. The investigation, which obtained the NHS data via a Freedom of Information Act request, found that the bill is rising every year and that last year’s billing was equivalent to 0.03% of the annual NHS budget (£116bn).
In 2015, only £21m was paid back to the NHS for 2015-2016. Whilst many trusts continue to chase payments, some are forced to write it off as bad debt. There are 21 trusts across England that are owed £100,00. Eight London trusts have owed a staggering £1m for 2015-2016. The largest bill was for Barts and The London NHS Trust, which was owed £4,987,190 last year. Collectively, they are owed £10,340,322 for the past four years. The majority of overseas patients are using the NHS for maternity and general medicine.
Chief executive of the Patients Association, Katherine Murphy, said: “It is shocking that so many costs are left unpaid by overseas patients using the NHS.
“If this money was reinvested in the NHS it could mean the difference between hiring more nurses or paying for additional equipment.”