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Government Must ‘Get a Grip’ on Health Tourism Bills

A report into unpaid bills by overseas patients suggests the NHS is missing out on millions due to a ‘chaotic’ system.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed concern that the Department of Health is failing to take required steps to recover money from overseas patients who leave without paying.

It seems the NHS isn’t effectively identifying and charging patients from European nations with reciprocal agreements regarding health funding.

The report highlights how in 2014/15, £675 million was spent by the UK on overseas patients but only £50 million was successfully recovered.

Labour MP and PAC chairwoman, Meg Hillier emphasises how the Government must ‘get a grip’ over this issue in order to create a more efficient NHS.

‘It is simply unacceptable that so much money owed should continue to go uncollected’, Ms Hillier continued.

The report clearly states that the Department of Health has to lay out a plan to ensure more money is recovered by June.

In response, the department has stated that it will soon reveal ‘further steps… to recover up to £500 million per year by the middle of this Parliament.

‘There is more to be done to make sure that if people are not eligible for free care, they pay for it.’

With a net deficit of £1.851 billion in 2015/16, it seems the UK cannot afford to let this ‘chaos’ cost the NHS another penny.