Patients in Scotland owe NHS £3.2m

As reported by the BBC, overseas patients receiving free healthcare in Scotland owe the NHS £3.2m

The Scottish health committee at Holywood has claimed that patients in Scotland owe the NHS £3.2m.

This is due to overseas patients receiving treatment that they are not entitled to, and the health service’s failure to identify that lack of entitlement.

People not living in the UK are supposed to be charged for the use of NHS services, but GPs in Scotland are not required to record a patient’s country of origin when treating them, meaning many are treated for free.

In England, anybody providing NHS treatment has to ensure that the patient is eligible for free care in advance.

Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, Labour’s Lewis Macdonald, said: “The committee supports the principle that anybody in Scotland can access GP services or A&E departments free of charge when needed.

“However, we are concerned that NHS boards are missing out on vital sums of money to which they are due by not being able to identify those entitled to NHS care.”

In response to this issue, the health committee has produced a report describing an ‘inconsistent approach’ to patients by Scottish health boards.

The report highlights the fact that not all boards are participating in the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) Incentive Scheme, which allows them to claim back a quarter of treatment costs of EHIC card holders.

The committee believes that boards could recoup more than £700,000 a year if they participated in a scheme to report usage of the NHS by EHIC card holders.

Macdonald added: “We believe the Scottish government should begin a review of the current situation immediately and have asked them to adopt a clearer and more unified approach to ensure access to NHS treatment is applied fairly and consistently.”

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