Foreigners have abused the NHS for years as government ministers and health bosses agreed to look the other way in the great health tourist cover-up. The vast scale of health tourism, all funded by British taxpayers, has now been revealed by whisteblowers previously thought of as ‘nuisances’ by NHS bosses.
According to the Daily Mail, the managers say they are told to disguise the true number abusing the health service by bosses who ‘don’t want to know’ – and are branded racist if they speak out. Foreign patients can also use NHS-issued cards to obtain treatment abroad without fear of reprisal.
But it emerged last night that the Government has known about ‘concerns’ over EHIC card fraud for months – yet failed to act and still issues more than five million a year.
The Mail revealed that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was warned 18 months ago about a loophole allowing foreign nationals to charge the NHS for medical treatment in their home countries.
A report published in October 2013 warned migrants were using EHIC cards after applying for them under false pretences. The health tourism report revealed NHS staff tasked with rooting out abuse were warning about the ‘system and application process’ being misused by foreign nationals.
It said: ‘Several … commented that visitors from EEA countries sometimes present a UK EHIC card and they were concerned that … people concerned would then return home and access healthcare which they previously would not be eligible for with the cost being met by the UK taxpayer.’
Examples given in the Mail story include the following abuses:
- Some foreign kidney patients have used NHS dialysis machines for more than five years without paying – costing more than £200,000 each
- A woman from West Africa flew to the UK five times to have each of her babies on an NHS ward before staff realised she was a health tourist
- British patients are missing out on life-saving organ transplants because health tourists are coming here to get them
- Bosses would rather ‘turn a blind eye’ as retrieving the money owed is ‘too difficult’
- Even some doctors are complicit, flying foreign relatives from abroad to have expensive operations for free on the NHS.
During the general election campaign, UKIP leader Nigel Farage attacked the high cost of health service treatment for foreigners with HIV as a way of illustrating how easy it is for foreign nationals to abuse the NHS.
Instantly the he was accused of ‘dangerous scaremongering’. Later figures – and this story – showed that more than half of those newly diagnosed with HIV in Britain (where their country of origin is known) were born overseas and represent just one part of a monumental scam being perpetrated on British taxpayers.
UKIP health spokesman Louise Bours MEP said the Conservative party had to admit the abuse by foreign nationals and deliver an answer to closing the loophole: “If the Tories don’t stop this going on, it will show once and for all that they prioritise the EU more than they care about the NHS and the health of British people.
“It is of course outrageous that this has been allowed to take place, but Cameron’s claim that the government didn’t know it was going on is equally unacceptable.
“It’s the job of the UK government to know where and how tax payers’ money is being spent, and they either did know about this crazy anomaly or they should have.
“More and more we are seeing Cameron being forced onto the back foot by revelations about the EU coming out in the newspapers. For once it would be nice if he admitted the extent of reasons why we should leave the EU without the public having to wait for them to be found-out by the media.”