Ipswich: Hospital writes off £12k of debt from overseas patients

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital have written off £12,000 of nearly £100,000 owed to them from overseas patients not entitled to free treatment in the past two years.

Following a Freedom of Information request made to the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, overseas patients not entitled to free treatment for the financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14 totalled nearly £95,000.

In 2012-13, the hospital was owed £69,751, and in 2013-14 they were owed £24,655.

Of the debts totalled by overseas patients, £12,201 was written off.

Overseas patients who have to pay are those who are not a resident of the United Kingdom and are not receiving accident and emergency services and family planning services.

The patients also do not have to pay if they are treated for sexually transmitted diseases, or under the provision of the Mental Health Act 1983, treatment imposed by an order of the court, or receive services provided other than in a hospital or by a person who is employed to work for on behalf of a hospital.

Overseas patients will not pay if their treatment is for diseases that are necessary to protect the ‘wider public health’ including cholera, leprosy, mumps, plague, rabies and smallpox as well.

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A spokesman for Ipswich Hospital said: “Over a period of time we will see people who are not eligible for free NHS care.

“If you need care you will receive it. If you’re not eligible we make every effort that we can to reclaim that money from a variety of sources, including the government, insurance companies, and the individual.

“There does come a time when the costs of reclaiming are as much or more than the money owed.

“People may also no longer be in a position to pay, such as when they pass away.

“If someone presents the need for care it is our duty to provide that care.”

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: “Our interest is to make sure a range of good quality health and social care services are available to people in Suffolk, and all the available resources are used in providing these services.

“This money owed to Ipswich Hospital, while it is comparatively small amount, will still put additional pressure on its current already challenging financial position.

“We think it is unlikely that this would have any direct negative impact on other services, but we will like to ask people to continue to talk to us about their experiences of the services at Ipswich Hospital, so we can keep a close eye on the situation. “We have regular formal and informal communications with senior executives at the Hospital, and will continue to use these opportunities to monitor the development of this issue.”