Hospital abandons £30k of debts

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A HOSPITAL has abandoned nearly £30,000 of debt that it accrued from overseas patients under non-reciprocal arrangements.

Figures comparing the amount that NHS Trusts received from overseas patients during 2009 to 2010 as well as the bad debt and claims they abandoned for such non-UK nationals, or UK nationals not ordinarily resident in the UK, were revealed on parliamentary debate site last week.

The data showed that the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust wiped off £28,258 of debt and recovered just £22,000, meaning that it recouped less than it wrote off, while the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust abandoned just £816 and received £66,000 in income.

A spokeswoman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “The figure quoted relates to an accumulation of debts dating back over five years which we took a decision to write off in 2009/10. By comparison, the amount of money owed to the Trust during 2010/11 stands at £1,886 and represents a very small proportion of our £150 million annual budget.

“We will not refuse treatment to any patient who is admitted to the hospital as an emergency and do not turn people away. If the patient is not entitled to free NHS care, we will do everything we can to recover payment following their discharge, including chasing debts using international tracing agencies.

“We would only consider writing off bills if the debtor cannot be traced or when the resources needed to pursue the debt exceed the sum we are aiming to recover.”