UPDATE: Health tourism crackdown at Peterborough City Hospital brings rise in overseas visitor payments
A crackdown on health tourism has seen a sharp rise in payments from overseas visitors for treatment they have received at Peterborough City Hospital.
The Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is now collecting 95 per cent of chargeable income from overseas visitors, up from 37 per cent in 2012.
It follows a change in policy from May 2013 for patients to bring two forms of identification for hospital treatment, one of which would be either a passport, visa, or proof of having already paid for NHS treatment.
The other is for proof of UK residency.
The policy has now hit national headlines after Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health, told the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament that “individual trusts like Peterborough” were asking patients to provide their passports.
MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson welcomed the news. He said only the “luddites” at the British Medical Association were opposed to the idea.
A trust spokeswoman said if patients are missing one or both parts of their required ID, “they are written to after the appointment, asking them to provide this at the next appointment or come into the hospital with them.”
She added: “It is difficult to provide a figure for how many have not been given treatment due to not having the right ID because this could be patient or hospital choice. We are looking at an electric system to be able to identify these patients.”
The spokeswoman also said urgent treatment is always provided, with costs sought for afterwards. She said: “There is no concern that people who might be in desperate need of care are turned away.”
Asked how much money the trust had saved by asking patients for two forms of ID, the spokeswoman said: “The trust has received £250,000 income for the treatment of chargeable patients each year since the start of this policy.”
Before that, it was receiving approximately £92,500 a year.
Mr Wormald said the Department of Health was looking into whether more trusts should go down the same route as the trust in Peterborough.
Health tourism is classed as the deliberate use of the NHS by people who are not entitled to it.