A heavily-pregnant woman from Nigeria flew thousands of miles to have her baby at a Manchester hospital costing the taxpayer around £10,000, it has emerged.
The ‘health tourist’ travelled more than 3,000 miles from Nigeria to the cash-strapped Wythenshawe Hospital for an emergency caesarean.
It is understood the woman, who was educated at top US university Harvard, flew to Manchester Airport and went directly to the hospital where she told doctors she required the procedure after a scan in Nigeria revealed complications in her pregnancy.
Health minister Simon Burns said the NHS is not there to ‘serve the health needs of the globe’ and said the government is reviewing the system to prevent inappropriate access to NHS resources.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, the MP for nearby Leigh, also called for an inquiry into the case.
Nationally the NHS treats thousands of patients from outside the European Union who are not entitled to free care and in 2010/11 NHs hospitals charged overseas visitors over £23m for treatment and wrote off under £7m of debts.
Hospitals often struggle to recoup their costs and seek help from Embassies. They can inform Border Agency which can block the return of any health tourist who leaves bills of more than £1,000 unpaid.
Foreign patients are charged the same standard flat rate for each treatment they receive as the NHS would pay.
The woman arrived at the hospital and told staff that she had undergone an ultrasound scan which revealed complications and she was advised to have a caesarean.
It is understood she made the journey because she believed she would be in safer hands in Britain.
Nigeria offers free maternity care but it is of poor quality and there is a high mortality rate where a woman has a one in 13 chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, according to statistics.
A hospital source labelled her a ‘health tourist’ and said she had required vast resources, including midwives, two urology consultants, a radiology consultant, two obstetric consultants and two anaesthetists in the delivery room.