TAXPAYERS have had to foot a hospital bill of nearly £200,000 for an illegal immigrant.
Details have emerged that Portsmouth Hospitals Trust was unable to claim back the £181,000 cost run up by just one person, following an investigation by The Sun newspaper.
It is something that needs to be addressed by central government as a matter of urgencyCouncillor Peter Edgar
The person was treated at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, but no further details have been revealed.
The trust employs an overseas patients team to recover costs but was unable to in this case.
Councillor Peter Edgar, who sits on Portsmouth’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel for Gosport Borough Council, said the government needs to address health tourism urgently.
He added: ‘The government is busy with legislation at the moment and this is something that needs to be addressed by central government as a matter of urgency.
‘As the number of people coming in to the country is increasing rapidly it’s important that situations like this should be sorted out as soon as possible.
‘The NHS, particularly hospitals, have massive financial problems at the moment and this is a substantial sum of money.’
Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of Migration Watch UK, said he was not surprised the trust was unable to recover the costs and added: ‘It’s something that is all too common.
‘It’s not always possible to get back the costs of treatment in this country.
‘It is something that, at the moment, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the government to address.
‘I think they could do more.’
In a statement Portsmouth Hospitals Trust said it was unable to comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality.
The statement added: ‘The trust employs an overseas patients team which seeks to recover costs due to be paid by overseas patients and rigorously apply the Department of Health rules on overseas patient recovery.
‘Cases in which the figure is rather large reflect the severity of the illness of that patient and the length of time they were in the care of the hospital.’