COMMENT: More care should have been taken by QA Hospital

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Day after day we hear tales of people coming from abroad to take advantage of our health system. There are stories of heavily pregnant foreigners flying in just to give birth here.  

And then there are those who try to ‘milk’ our great NHS by arriving on our doorstep when they are seriously ill knowing that our hospitals would never turn someone away.

Billions upon billions of pounds are poured into the NHS each year and it has many critics. But those billions are worth it if it means that we have a health service that is free at the point of delivery, surely?

Even if it does mean that others work the system? 

One person who is not working the system though is Charlie Trotter. The 72-year-old is dying of bowel cancer.

For 30 years he lived in Spain so perhaps you could argue that he has no right to NHS health care. 

But considering he spent almost three decades in the Royal Navy, including fighting in the Falklands war as a chief petty officer, it is pretty clear he is no free-loader. 

He put his life on the line for Queen and country. Hundreds did not return from that brutal war. It is only natural he would want to return to his home country in his final days. 

But Mr Trotter and his family have been treated appallingly by Queen Alexandra Hospital and this can only have added to the family’s distress. 

We have every sympathy for the NHS which is burdened with having to treat people who are not eligible for free health care and being forced to chase them for payment – which in many cases is unlikely ever to be recovered. 

But more care should have been taken with Mr Trotter.

The hospital will be reviewing the way it handles UK patients returning from overseas. It is good to know lessons have been learned.