A Heavily-pregnant Nigerian woman, Bimbo Ayelabola (33) who was told she would need a caesarean in a Nigerian Hospital in Lagos, decided to travel from Lagos to Manchester instead, just to have a Caesarean
The woman travelled 3,200 miles from Lagos to Manchester because she was worried about the standard of care in her own country and thought she would be in safer hands.
On arrival she went straight to Wythenshawe Hospital where she told doctors that there were complications with her pregnancy, DailyMail understands.
Two midwives, two urology consultants, a radiology consultant, two obstetric consultants and two anaesthetists attended her in the delivery room before her healthy baby was born by emergency Caesarean section on Wednesday of last week.
Before she was discharged on Monday, hospital staff sought billing details for the woman and told her the cost of the treatment was around £10,000. However, she is not thought to have paid anything.
Last night MPs called for an inquiry and accused the unnamed woman of ‘effectively stealing’ from the British taxpayer.
The Government said it hoped new measures would tackle ‘health tourists’ who fly to Britain to take advantage of the world-renowned NHS.
Health minister Simon Burns said: ‘We won’t tolerate abuse of our 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.’
Hospitals are allowed to bill non-EU patients who travel from their home countries to the UK for medical treatment on the NHS.
But health sources say that in reality patients often return to their homeland without paying and the debts are then almost impossible to recover.
The Harvard-educated woman flew to Manchester Airport and went directly to Wythenshawe Hospital.
It is believed she chose the well-respected university hospital because she knew it had a maternity unit and was less than two miles from the airport.
On arrival she told doctors she had undergone an ultrasound scan in Nigeria which revealed complications with her pregnancy which suggested a Caesarean was advisable.
Her baby was born at Wythenshawe without complication.
Mr Burns said: ‘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.’
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘We need a full inquiry into the circumstances and how the hospital has been left in this position. There are clear rules about health tourism and the NHS must be able to recover its costs.’
Graham Stringer, Labour MP for the Manchester seat of Blackley and Broughton, added: ‘This is simply a foreigner choosing to effectively steal off the NHS and the Government should use whatever powers it has to get the money back.’
University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust – which runs Wythenshawe – is short of funds and is having to cut £17.5million this year.
The hospital has a dedicated team who pursue payment by invoicing patients, but once they leave the UK the hospitals are almost powerless to act.
However hospitals can inform the UK Border Agency and repeat entry into the UK by visa may be withheld until the bill is settled.
A hospital spokesman said: ‘If a patient is a non-UK resident and treatment is considered necessary or urgent then it would never be withheld.
‘In regards to reclaiming costs from non-UK residents who use our services, we adhere to guidelines issued by the Department of Health.’
Figures revealed by Wythenshawe Hospital showed the number of non-EU patients treated rose from 78 in 2008/09 to 133 in 2011/12.
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