Our NHS can’t afford to treat the world!

The Daily Mail comments – On day two of our investigation into abuses of the health service, it emerges that ministers have known for nine months about foreigners charging the NHS for treatment in their home countries. Yet so far, they’ve done nothing about it.

Meanwhile, we reveal how doctors and hospital managers turn a blind eye to health tourism estimated to cost taxpayers up to £3billion a year.

NHS TouristAs a whistleblower admits: ‘Abusing the NHS is the easiest thing in the world.’

While other countries impose rigorous checks, visitors to Britain are routinely granted ‘free’ treatment to which they are blatantly unentitled – with managers only too happy to charge the NHS, so as to avoid having to chase up money from foreigners who can’t or won’t pay.

Indeed, only a quarter of those who abuse the service are flagged up; of these, just 15 per cent pay.

No wonder patients in need of expensive operations flock to Britain, while pregnant women fly in from around the world to have their babies on the NHS.

With unthinking self-righteousness, many doctors who dish out NHS numbers to all-comers say it is not their job to check patients’ entitlements, but merely to heal the sick. Others, disgracefully, accuse whistleblowers of racism.

Yet they’re colluding in a massive fraud against taxpayers, while placing an intolerable burden on an NHS so short of funds that it denies life-prolonging drugs to British cancer victims.

After the launch of our investigation, ministers have at last vowed to close the loophole that allows EU citizens who have never lived or work worked here to charge us for treatment they have at home.

But this can only be the start of the long-promised crackdown on every aspect of health tourism. The job won’t be done until the world gets the message that the ‘N’ in NHS stands for National.

“The scale of this is astounding and it’s a disgrace when UK ‘nationals’ are already seeing major problems with social and health care broadcast day by day”

NHS has to save £10billion a year by 2020

The NHS have been warned it must save up to £10billion a year by cutting down on expensive agency staff and selling off land.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told NHS managers they need to spend money more efficiently to ensure the service is sustainable and improve frontline care.

In a speech to the think-tank, The King’s Fund, he set out measures that could save up to 10billion a year by 2020. ‘If we are to be truly financially sustainable we need to rethink how we spend money in a much more fundamental way,’ he said.

Mr Hunt said reducing ‘avoidable harm’ to patients will save £2.5billion from the cost of further treatment and negligence claims, while minimising prescription errors could save £551million.

Better acquisition of goods and services could also deliver £1.5billion of savings on the £15billion annual NHS procurement budget by next year.

He insisted that private agency staff bills – which had increased by £1billion to almost £2.5billion must come down, while NHS trusts will also be challenged to sell off surplus lands and estates.

The total value of surplus NHS estate is estimated to be worth £1.5billion in London alone.

The Health Secretary has also restated his determination to claw back money from ‘health tourists’ – visitors and migrants who access non-emergency care.

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* Thousands of cancer patients could lose out under new plans to axe drugs deemed too expensive for the NHS.

A list of 25 drugs – which includes six breast cancer drugs and Jetvana used in prostrate cancer – has been posted for ‘re-evaluation’ next month by the Cancer Drugs Fund, with a decision due in the New Year.

Existing patients would continue to be treated, but new patients may have to appeal to get drugs that are currently approved.