AN illegal immigrant uneligible for NHS healthcare has been staying at a British hospital for more than a year – costing taxpayers GBP100,000.
The Pakistani national – whose visa to visit the UK expired four years ago in September 2007 – is still a patient at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands, despite being treated and declared fit to be discharged in August last year.
The hospital has been unable to discharge the man because it is waiting for the UK Border Agency to fix a date with Pakistan International Airlines to transport him back to his home country following cardiovascular treatment.
Conservative MP Margot James, for Stourbridge raised the matter in Parliament on Tuesday and said it was an “outrageous abuse of NHS resources at a time when budgets are tight”.
She also branded it ‘an appalling case of bureaucratic inertia” and called on immigration minister Damian Green to ensure illegal immigrants who receive NHS treatment are repatriated as soon as that treatment is concluded.
The minister responded saying the Government take a robust stance on abuse of NHS services, before reassuring her the patient would be removed in the ‘near future’.
The MP also blasted the UK Border Agency for its “poor record” of removing over stayers and said illegal immigrants was a legacy of Labour’s time in Government.
“The individual overstayed and hasn’t been removed. When he got sick, although not eligible for NHS treatment, we’re not the sort of country to refuse medical care and I don’t think we should be,” she said.
“The failure in the system was the failure to remove him when his visa ran out and the fact that the UK Border Agency and Pakistan International Airlines couldn’t get their act together.”
Ms James was prompted to raise the matter in Parliament after Paula Clark, chief executive of the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, contacted her saying she was still awaiting a discharge date from the UK Border Agency.
Dudley Group of Hospitals boss Ms Clark said: “We are working with the UK Border Agency to ensure our patient is discharged safely and are awaiting a discharge date from them.
“Our patient needed acute hospital care when admitted into hospital with complex medical conditions and was medically fit to be discharged in August 2010 but required ongoing nursing care.
The cost of care to the hospital has been in excess of GBP100,000.”
Initially treated at the Royal London Hospital following a heart attack and subsequent hypoxic brain injury, the patient was transferred in July 2010 to Dudley where it was believed he had an address.
Ms James raised the matter with the Immigration Minister during Home Office Questions.
The patient has limited family connections in Britain.