London hospitals £10m debt for foreign maternity patients – time for the NiNo?

Failure to identify healthcare tourists is costing one London NHS maternity unit £5m pa and London hospitals more than £10m pa. In an attempt to identify who should in fact be paying for their child birth, the hospital is asking patients to present utility bills and evidence of residency.  This sounds like a potentially awkward and difficult conversation for staff.  How do they choose who to ask and who not to ask for residency evidence?  A faked utility bill is surely not that hard to create if you are determined enough to get on a plane to use a foreign hospital.

The simple solution is for all non-GP referred patients to present a valid National Insurance (NiNO) to the NHS at point of delivery.  Irrespective of your nationality or race.  No NiNo no free treatment.  We already have systems to check validity of a NiNo so minimal fraud risk.

Just think by starting to use the unique identifier of the NiNo rather than the NHS number, the NHS systems would be able to start linking in with the rest of the UK benefit systems at the DWP, employers and just about all other government departments.  Joined up government… no there’s an idea.

View Evening Standard article from October 11th 2016 here – nhs-maternity-costs