Scandal of Foreign 'health tourists' Prioritised for NHS Treatment over British Tax Payers

Health tourists who fly to Britain for cataract operations are being prioritised ahead of NHS patients, according to reports.


An NHS cataract operation at King's College Hospital. Getty images

An investigation has revealed that up to 300 patients from abroad were offered the simple but life-changing treatment ahead of British taxpayers.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows 283 foreign patients were fast-tracked for treatment because their conditions were judged to be more urgent than other patients.

The eye condition – which sees the lens become clouded and makes it difficult for sufferers to read, write and see – mainly affects the elderly.

Over 300,000 NHS cataract operations are performed every year – making it the health service's most common treatment.

But waiting lists have soared due to financial pressures faced by NHS trusts, with some areas having average waiting times of nearly eight months.

A total of 849 patients from overseas were given free NHS treatment for the condition over the past two years – thought to cost the taxpayer up to £2,500 per head, most of which is never paid back.

A former NHS cancer surgeon said the findings proved "health tourism is flourishing".

Professor J Meirion Thomas told the Daily Mail: "Why should patients who are not eligible for free NHS care be allowed treatment at a rock-bottom price?

"This investigation proves again that health tourism is flourishing in the face of the feeble efforts of the Department of Health."

Tory MP Andrew Percy added: "The NHS is facing extreme pressures and its unacceptable that money is being spent on treatment for people that are ineligible."


Source: Daily Express



Scandal of Foreign 'health tourists' Prioritised for NHS Treatment over British Tax Payers

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