Wrong to make this immigration story
Mr PG raises a valid concern about health tourism, but the facts are garbled.
The lady’s name is 0.(Google her name to see my sources of information).
She flew from Nigeria to the United Kingdom in December 2010, giving birth by caesarean to quintuplets (not quads) in April 2011.
Homerton University Hospital says the cost was £145,000 (not £500,000).
She overstayed her visitor’s visa, but returned to Nigeria with her children in February 2013.
She did not claim asylum: in fact, the Daily Telegraph reports that she has been banned from returning to the UK for five years.
The hospital made only one attempt to bill her, and then gave up.
She is a wealthy and well-connected woman, who has said she is willing to pay, but has not tried very hard to do so.
This story was recently resurrected by the Daily Mail to fuel the drive for draconian measures to make us prove our entitlement to NHS treatment.
It is wrong to try to make this into an immigration story.
It is also wrong to use it to support compulsory pregnancy tests for visitors: imagine the furore if British holidaymakers were forced to submit to such testing.
We should also be very wary of becoming a nation in which officials demand that we present our papers at every turn.
Most people, wherever they come from, are not embarrassed to be asked to pay honestly for what they receive, and the fact that the Mail had to rake up a five-year-old story shows that such rich rogues are, fortunately, fairly rare.
The real scandal is that successive governments have failed to provide the NHS with the records system and back-end resources needed to check entitlement and manage payment.
Now the present government is exploiting the current climate of suspicion to place the burden on hard-pressed frontline NHS staff.
J Robin Hughes
Towngate Road, Worrall, Sheffield, S3