NHS fails to recover staggering £623,000 in highest bill owed by single overseas patient

AN NHS patient from overseas has failed to pay up £623,000 to the NHS - the most expensive bill ever owed by a singe patient.

The patient did not settle the staggering figure, which is believed to be the largest in medical history, after they were treated by Mid Essex Trust. The NHS have refused to give the name or nationality of the patient in question. Government policy is that foreign nationals should be charged upfront for non-urgent care.

Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has made it clear that patients should be paying their way (Image: GETTY )

NHS

The NHS is already operating under an extreme strain (Image: GETTY )

People from the EU are covered by their European Health Insurance Card and patients from outside the Union must have health insurances to be covered.

The Essex bill came out as the highest amount owed to the NHS by a single patient, followed by a £428,000 bill of St Guy’s and St Thomas’s in central London.

Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said to The Sun: “This is big money and we can scarcely afford the NHS as it is without paying for all these people too.

“I can’t believe there is not a better way of running the system so these bills are not left unpaid.”

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NHS

The NHS can often not pay off its debts from overseas visitors (Image: GETTY )

Ministers have announced a crackdown on health tourism and announced a £1million drive to get back outstanding debts from visitors.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given the team in charge of recovering cash from overseas visitors a cash boost.

Mr Hancock has made it clear that it was “only fair we ask overseas visitors to pay their way”.

On Sunday Mr Hancock said: “Our beloved NHS is renowned around the world for providing high quality health care and it is able to do so thanks to the valuable contributions made by hardworking taxpayers – so it is only fair we ask overseas visitors to pay their way as well.

Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock vowed to crack down on health tourism (Image: GETTY )

“This new drive will help recoup millions in unclaimed funds for our NHS which can go back into frontline patient care, so the NHS can be there for all of us when we need it most.”

In 2016 it emerged that a Nigerian mother cost the NHS £500,000 as she gave birth to quadruplets in the UK after being turned away from the US.

The mother had no way of paying so the NHS have been forced to pick up the huge cost.

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NHS

The NHS is seen as offering the best healthcare in the world (Image: GETTY )

In May it was revealed the NHS had to write off £27million of unpaid hospital bills due to ineligible overseas patients not paying for their treatments.

In January, Meg Hillier, Labour and Co-operative MP and chairwoman of the Publuc Accounts Committee, said: “The Government’s failure to get a grip on recovering the costs of treating overseas visitors is depriving the NHS of vital funds.

“Our committee has reported extensively on the financial pressures facing the health service and it is simply unacceptable that so much money owed should continue to go uncollected.

“This is a problem for the health service as a whole and work to put it right must be driven by central government.”