By Uduma Kalu
The United Kingdom has said it will no longer tolerate abuse of its National Health Service, NHS, by Nigerian visitors after a Nigerian woman reportedly flew to the UK to have her baby in a British hospital.
The unnamed Nigerian woman was alleged to have received treatment totalling £10,000 but returned to the country after having had her child without paying anything.
United Kingdom ministers said the Government would not tolerate abuse of the NHS.
London Evening Standard said UK Ministers had warned that gvernment would not tolerate abuse of the NHS by foreign visitors after the Nigerian flew into their country so that she could have her baby in a British hospital.
The ministers’ anger came a year after one Bimbo Ayelabola, a Nigerian, who gave birth to quintuplets in UK ,was embroiled in a residency row over her extended stay there, despite the fact that she was a visitor.
Ayelabola, 33, reportedly took a fertility drug (Clomid) overdose in order to aid conception after losing her very first pregnancy. As soon as she found out she was pregnant, the woman allegedly relocated to the UK to be able to take the needed rest outside of the hustling and bustling of Lagos.
In UK, she underwent a scan which revealed she was expecting 4 babies in the first instance before it was discovered later during the baby delivery that there was a 5th baby. Hence, she was put on an emergency National Health Scheme, NHS, programme which as at July last year, had depleted the scheme’s purse to the tune of £200,000 ($320,000).
However, last week, Health Minister Simon Burns said that the Government was looking to tighten the rules to prevent “inappropriate” access to free hospital treatment by Nigerian and foreign visitors.
The heavily pregnant woman was said to have travelled from Lagos to Manchester because she was concerned about the standard of treatment she would receive in Nigeria.
She was said to have gone straight from the airport to Wythenshawe Hospital where she told staff that there were complications with her pregnancy.
Two midwives, two consultant urologists, a radiology consultant, two consultant obstetricians and two anesthetists were reported to have been involved in her treatment before her healthy baby was born by emergency Caesarean section last two weeks.
Prior to her discharge from hospital on Monday, staff were said to have informed her that the cost of her treatment was around £10,000 and asked her for billing details. The woman was reported to have left without paying anything.
Burns said: “We won’t tolerate abuse of our national health service. The NHS has a duty to anyone whose life or long-term health is at immediate risk but it is not there to serve the health needs of the globe. “There are comprehensive rules and procedures to charge visitors for hospital treatment but we know that the system needs to be improved. That is why we are currently reviewing those arrangements to prevent inappropriate free access to the NHS and provide a fairer more balanced system.
“Hospitals have a legal duty to recover any charges made to overseas patients. The Government has also recently amended the immigration rules so that anyone with an unpaid debt to the NHS of £1,000 or more can be refused a new visa.”