Editorial Comment

Excuses not to collect charges from foreign tourists

Can you actually believe the extent to which NHS managers and clinicians argue that it’s not their job to collect charges from foreign tourists seeking free emergency or non emergency treatment. Many years ago in the 1970’s I came across a GP practice in the West Midlands that charged £25 per annum to register as a private patient the head of a household. The practice would not accept that person as an NHS patient. Working in a Family Practitioner Committee at the time we studied NHS Regulations very carefully in an attempt to find how this loophole. We could not find a law that had been broken and the practise continued.

It seems strange that hospitals in particular either cannot or do not apply a similar principle. Collect a charge when the patient / tourist crosses the threshold. I was surprised to hear this morning that in the U.K there is no law that requires foreign tourists visiting the U.K. To take out a medical insurance. I don’t know about you but I find this ridiculous. I have an annual insurance which covered me on my Christmas trip to Cuba but if I had reached the age of 70 I would have had to pay another £70 on top of my £120. I took my insurance documents with me and although I was quite ill whilst away – I was waiting for an operation – thankfully apart from buying strong painkillers I did not need a medical intervention.

The tourist from Nigeria who was flying from continent to continent heavily pregnant has used up to 6 hospital beds for over five months at a cost of £500,000. Whilst considering it an abuse of our NHS who will pay, answer you and me. In recent years the whole attitude of the NHS has changed toward not charging and freely accepting all comers into our NHS. We must be the laughing stock of the world. I felt sorry for the man with his credit card machine trying to squeeze the last penny out of occupants of a hospital bed. The whole should be dealt with before the patient crosses the threshold. Perhaps border guards should be checking for health insurance rather than hospital staff ask how long have you lived here.



Robert Campbell

By Robert Campbell<br><img src="" alt="Robert Campbell" class="avatar" width='50' height='50'/>

Started work writing medical cards in 1966 at Staffordshire Executive Council. Have worked at Inner London Executive Council, Hertfordshire Executive Council, Lambeth Southwark and Lewisham FPC, Birmingham FPC, Dudley FPC and Wakefield FPC and Family Health Services Authority. I was seconded to the NHS Appeals Unit and have worked as a full time GP practice manager since 1992 until 2010. I was also an AMSPAR trainer at Park Lane College, Leeds. Now I work as a freelance author.