Figures show the ailing NHS is paying millions for patients being treated abroad.
Taxpayers foot the bill for women who choose to give birth abroad and for routine hip and knee surgeries.
Data obtained by MailOnline shows that more than £4million has been spent on NHS-funded surgeries abroad over the past three years.
Part of that, activists believe, will likely involve dodging month-long queues for care, with the backlog at an all-time high.
Others choose to give birth close to a European family or in their preferred country.
The NHS has sent over 5,000 Brits overseas for treatment since 2019, figures from MailOnline show
Most of the NHS-approved overseas procedures were actually intended for Britons to give birth in Europe
Official figures show that 7.1 million people in England were queuing for routine hospital treatment such as hip and knee surgery by the end of September – the equivalent of one in eight people (red line). The number includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting, often in pain, for over a year (yellow bars)
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An annual report from NHS Resolution, the organization that handles negligence disputes on behalf of the healthcare system, expects claims for treatment delays, cancellations and misdiagnosis to rise.
Families are already turning to law firms to seek compensation after losing loved ones during the pandemic.
Activists have also warned that the number “may not be enough”.
Jackie Linehan, legal director of negligence specialists Enable Law, is representing the family of a man who died in June 2020 after his urgent heart surgery was delayed by several months.
She told the Daily Telegraph: “We expect the number of claims related to deaths and preventable injuries to increase in 2020 and 2021 due to the delays in treatment.
“Many people are only just realizing the consequences if they are not seen much sooner.”
Places where NHS-funded procedures have been carried out since 2019 include Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, France and Spain.
The NHS is funding patients being treated abroad through an EU-backed scheme – although the UK is no longer in the bloc.
In total, 5,294 patients from across the UK have received scheduled taxpayer-funded treatment in Europe since 2019.
Most of the applications (nearly 4,700) concerned maternity care, particularly childbirth abroad.
The majority of other surgeries were not named, although hip and knee surgeries are known to be included.
However, two were listed for bone replacements, seven for cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, three for heart disease, and seven as “general surgery.”
To be eligible for S2 funding, applicants must be based in the UK, the treatment must normally be provided by the NHS, and a UK or European clinician must explain why the treatment is needed within a certain period of time.
If that period is beyond the ability of the NHS, treatment can be funded by taxpayers abroad.
Application approval takes about 20 days, after which it can be treated as if the Briton were a citizen of that nation.
The NHS warns this could mean the patient may have to pay 25 per cent of the cost of the operation, depending on the country, with the rest being funded by the state, in this case the UK.
Other additional costs such as flight, hotel and accommodation are not covered.
Authorizations are issued by each UK nation’s NHS agency and then sent to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which releases the funds.
The system works differently when it comes to a planned birth abroad, where expectant mothers apply directly to the NHSBSA.
An example of when a grant could be awarded is if the pregnant woman is an EU citizen, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtensteiner and has been living in the UK since before 1 January 2021.
While costs have come down in recent years, the total bill is still £4 million (figures are based on an average 2022 exchange rate).
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Speaking before the Public Finance Committee, she said efforts were being made to inform her “sooner rather than later”.
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The same applies if the woman is a family member or partner of someone who meets these criteria.
Data shows that 1,842 Brits successfully applied for funding for their care abroad in 2019, followed by a peak of 1,950 patients in 2020.
The number then dropped to 942 last year and to just 560 patients this year.
As the NHS reimburses treatment costs, this year’s figures are unlikely to be complete.
John O’Connell, chief executive of advocacy group Taxpayer’s Alliance, said the data showed a worrying trend in terms of NHS funding and value for money.
“These data will only increase concerns about NHS funding for treatment abroad,” he said.
“Taxpayers will wonder why health chiefs see the need to send patients abroad, even for pre-scheduled treatments, and whether it’s good value for money.”
Some patients use the funding route to get treatment faster than in the UK as they can no longer bear to live with pain or their condition.
The continuation of the S2 scheme was included in the EU exit agreement in the course of Brexit.
MailOnline’s data comes amid isolated reports that Britons have gone to European countries including Poland, France, Lithuania, Germany, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia and Slovakia for a variety of procedures.
The Daily Express, using similar but different data, reported that NHS England has also been sending patients abroad for weight loss surgery, infertility treatments and tooth extractions.
Other surgeries listed included infections, cataract corrections, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
NHS England said the data obtained by the Express did not distinguish between planned care and those who happened to be abroad when they needed treatment.
MailOnline’s data only includes pre-planned surgeries and procedures that have been pre-approved by the NHS.
The data comes as the waiting list for care in England reached a record 7.1 million, the equivalent of one in eight people, at the end of September.
That number also includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting for over a year, often in significant pain and discomfort.
Data from NHS England shows just over 275,000 inpatients were having surgery or being treated in hospitals in August this year. It was 6 percent below the average of 293,000 treated in the three months ended August 2019
The backlog of treatments has skyrocketed since thousands of surgeries were canceled by the Covid pandemic and NHS activity has not recovered since.
A report released earlier this month by the National Audit Office highlighted that NHS England’s own estimates revealed the health service was less productive than in recent years.
It is estimated that the NHS was around 16 per cent less productive in 2021 than in 2019, with reduced productivity continuing into 2022/23.
NHS England found that NHS staff were, on average, not performing as many procedures as they had previously due to, among other things, more sick leave, less willingness to work overtime, whether paid or unpaid, and the reallocation of staff between teams.
The health service has drawn up a Covid recovery plan with the aim of returning to pre-pandemic activity levels 2022/23.
However, rising inflation, falling NHS productivity and strikes by healthcare workers could jeopardize that goal.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/how-nhs-spends-millions-on-treating-patients-abroad/ How the NHS is spending millions treating patients ABROAD