The cost of NHS tourism

So, now we know how much it actually costs.

Immigrants with unpaid NHS bills could be excluded from Britain under proposals aimed at reducing foreign healthcare tourism.

The Department of Health is trying to recover £22 million from foreign nationals who have had NHS treatment in the past two years and not paid their bills.

At one level it\’s a significant sum. £ 10 million or so spondoolicks a year is real money.

At another level it ain\’t. At something like £100 billion a year spent on the NHS £10 million is, umm, let\’s see if I can get the right number of zeroes here…..0.001% of the system cost.

Perhaps somewhere a little above the amount spent on wipes for surgeons\’ fevered brows in operating theatres and very much below the amount pissed away on outreach diversity workers.

No, I don\’t advocate not pursuing them for the money: but it does mean that NHS tourism as a political bugbear ought to be waaaay down the list, somewhere around the importance of whether Sarah and Samantha prefer being on top or not.

You know, something that\’s irrelevant.

11 thoughts on “The cost of NHS tourism”

  1. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    I think you’ve got one too many in there, Tim. 1 gigapound would be 1% so 10 megapounds would be 0.01%

    Still, as that fellow said, a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

  2. It’s more than just the money, though. It’s the principle – and while here, they ‘bed block’ and prevent someone entitled to that treatment from recieving it in time…

  3. “It’s the principle”

    “Carry this card to stop eeeevil foreigners getting free NHS services. Yes, the cards will cost £19bn but think of the savings. What? Only £10m savings? Oh, in that case it’s the principle.”

  4. JuliaM,

    So the NHS spending more money on something else that is unnecessary does not prevent someone entitled to treatment from recieving it in time more than this bed blocking?

  5. Oh, I don’t think ID cards are an answer, don’t get me wrong…

    How about we simply remove whatever organ we put in or undo whatever procedure we carried out upon failure to pay? Pour encourager les autres, of course…

  6. “Oh, I don’t think ID cards are an answer, don’t get me wrong…”

    Yeah, I know. But the trouble is, “the principle” is great cover for all kinds of acts of evil. It’s the very engine of the philosophy of the left.

  7. How do you GET a bill from the NHS? On my increasingly rare visits to Blighty I occasionally get tests done or have medical examinations, I always ask for a bill and I’m treated to lip-curling distaste for asking. There just isn’t any mechanism for billing patients.

  8. Don’t know why you’d minimize the importance of whether Sarah or Samantha is on top. I’ll go a step further and say I’d be quite delighted to have either (or both) on top.

  9. How do you GET a bill from the NHS?

    Some time ago, my daughter was admitted to hospital on a visit to the UK. A month or so later, they mailed us a bill. (Of course, when they admitted her, they asked for our home address, but didn’t manage to ask “are you entitled to free NHS treatment even though you live abroad”, but they were very nice when I returned their bill with an explanation as to why I didn’t owe anything. I think the rules have changed a couple of times since.)

    But this seems easy and cheap enough to manage. There are already lists of people who are barred from the UK. It’s easy enough to have the computer check incoming passports against a “do you owe the NHS any money” list, although given the government’s track record with computers, it would probably take 10 years and cost a few billion quid.

    If a debtor shows up, he can either hand over his credit card or be put on the next plane home.

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