The 14 Words

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Hundreds of foreign pregnant women coming to the UK to give birth for free on the NHS

Hundreds of pregnant foreigners are flying to Britain just days before they give birth so that they can receive free healthcare courtesy of the NHS, a report has found.

'It's ok we'll fly to Britain and our child will be classed as British'

The women are duping airlines - who normally forbid expectant mothers more than 36 weeks pregnant to fly - so they can receive the free service. Expectant mothers trick airlines in their home countries into letting them fly by showing staff forged doctors notes which conceal the length of their pregnancies.

Most of the women who arrive at NHS hospitals then have to be admitted and allowed to give birth, the report found, because their pregnancies were too advanced for them to fly home.

The average cost of a birth with no complications and one night's stay in an NHS hospital is £1,092.

Immigration officials at one airport stopped more than 300 such health tourists over two years, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The revelations follow a worrying report in October, that warned that foreign visitors and short-term migrants cost the NHS £2billion a year. It concluded the Health Service has ‘some of the most generous rules in the world’.

And it even found evidence of relatives of migrants taking advantage of visits to Britain to have free treatment.

The bill was put at between £1.9billion and £2billion – with only around 16 per cent of the money clawed back. The Government said it would be ‘impractical or inappropriate’ to charge in full some patients, such as students or those with infectious diseases.

The study estimated that £388million goes on foreign patients who should pay for their care but are never charged.

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