The ‘massive and escalating problem’ of foreigners travelling to Britain to exploit the NHS is costing us billions every year, a senior doctor has warned.
In a dramatic expose of the extent of health tourism, a leading surgeon said the cash-strapped Health Service is becoming the ‘world’s maternity wing’ as expectant mothers arrive just to give birth.
Thousands of others are flying here for cancer, HIV, kidney and infertility treatment – and then leaving without paying, according to cancer specialist J Meirion Thomas.
Some are so ill that they are pushed straight back on to planes in their wheelchairs after being treated for free at hospitals close to airports.
Many arrive specifically to give birth, then argue that they should not be charged because it counts as emergency care.
Some are committing identity fraud, but the NHS is powerless to act.
And this ‘serial abuse’ could be costing taxpayers billions every year, he warned – far above previous estimates.
In a stinging article, Professor Thomas, consultant surgeon at The Royal Marsden hospital in London, cites a string of cases from across the NHS to conclude: ‘It all adds up to clear, widespread abuse of our NHS by ineligible patients.’
But he warned that the NHS may be ‘addled with too many loopholes’ to address the problem and could have ‘reached the point of no return’.