Almost £70,000 owed by patients

Kettering General Hospital

Kettering General Hospital

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A hospital has written off almost £70,000 from overseas patients who have not paid their bills over the past four years.

Despite chasing 61 people for payments, Kettering General Hospital (KGH) bosses had to write off £68,046 in debts since 2008-09, figures from a Freedom of Information request have revealed.

About two-thirds of overseas patients – 105 out of 155 – paid in full for their care in the period.

KGH chief executive Lorene Read said: “As the figures show many overseas people do in fact pay for this treatment but some do not.

“We do pursue our debts including – where appropriate – taking people to court.

“However clearly there are some cases – for example where a person returns home to their country – where it is not economic for us to pursue the debt.”

The figures show that £74,854 was paid to the hospital by visitors who are not entitled to free NHS treatments.

These usually include residents of non-EU countries who do not have mutual payment arrangements with the UK.

Ms Read added that overseas visitors not needing urgent treatment can be refused.

She said: “If a non-EU visitor comes for treatment at an NHS hospital like KGH we can refuse non-urgent treatment (for example a long-standing problem with a limb). But if the person comes as an emergency, or needs an urgent operation, we would treat them and then seek to recover the payment either at the time, or afterwards.”