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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Nigerian Woman Who Owes NHS UK £330,000 Confirms She Cannot Pay

A Nigerian woman has run up a £330,000 bill for NHS treatment after she gave birth prematurely to quadruplets in a London hospital.

The woman was taken ill on a flight from the US to Nigeria via Heathrow.

It comes as a group of MPs have urged the government to take "urgent action" to recover more money for treating foreign patients.

A Public Accounts Committee report says the system for recouping costs from overseas patients is "chaotic".

The case of the Nigerian woman is thought to be one of the NHS's biggest unpaid bills for an overseas patient.

The woman, who is included in the BBC Two programme Hospital, was due to give birth in the US, where she has family, but had been turned away for not having the right hospital paperwork.

She was taken ill on her flight home to Nigeria and ended up in St Mary's A&E, which covers Heathrow after her flight stopped over at the airport.

Priscilla was three months away from her due date.

She gave birth to one baby who died and she and her three children were all placed in intensive care.

Another of her children died on Saturday and her two surviving children remain in intensive care which costs £20,000 a week per child.

Priscilla was released from hospital after six weeks and is being supported by a charity as she has no family in the UK and admits she has no ability to pay the bill.

The NHS Imperial College Trust which includes St Mary's spent £4m on overseas patients last year and managed to recoup £1.6m.

Treatment given in A&E departments is free to all, however, once you are admitted, even as an emergency, overseas visitors are chargeable.

In October, it was revealed the government was expected to fall short of its target of recovering £500m a year from overseas visitors and the Department of Health "refined" its target for 2017-18 to £346m.

bbc