NHS recoups half the cost of treating foreign patients
NHS Scotland has recouped less than half the costs spent treating patients from Europe and overseas in the past five years.
Around £4 million out of £9m has been reimbursed.
Papers submitted to MSPS show that health boards in Scotland spent £4m between April 2013 and March 2017 treating international patients not from the European Economic Area (EEA), and therefore not entitled to free healthcare on the NHS. Of this, £2.75m has been recovered to date.
The figures were outlined by NHS Scotland chief executive Paul Gray in a letter to Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee.
He added: “It should be noted that all NHS Boards have procedures in place to pursue and recover treatment costs and that a number of patients will have been waiting for their insurance company to settle or will have had repayment plans in place.”
Mr Gray said it was unclear how many overseas patients had received treatment on NHS Scotland during this time as these figures were not collected centrally by the Scottish Government, but stressed that “anyone that requires NHS treatment while in Scotland will receive it, based on medical priority”.
The documents also detail spending on treatment for non-uk citizens visiting from the EEA region, who are entitled to free healthcare under reciprocal arrangements covered by the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.
The issue has been thrust into the spotlight as Brexit raised questions over how Brits’ medical care would be covered on the Continent in future.
Mr Gray states that 4,841 individuals from non-uk EEA countries have been treated on NHS Scotland since 2014/15, at a cost of £5m. NHS Scotland was reimbursed £1.25m in line with arrangements drawn up by the Department of Health in 2014, which promised participating health boards and NHS trusts across the UK that they would be directly repaid 25% of the costs of treating EEA patients in exchange for reporting the data. Without it, the UK Government cannot apply to other EEA countries to be reimbursed.
Mr Gray said: “The 25% level was seen as affordable and sufficient to motivate a higher number of boards and trusts to participate.”
The remainder of the healthcare costs repaid to the UK Government by other EEA countries goes direct to the Treasury.
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