THOUSANDS of health tourists are defying a crackdown to have babies delivered on the NHS.
More than ten ineligible women a day gave birth on English maternity wards last year, a Sun investigation found.
Jon Bond -The Sun Nigerian Bimbo Ayelabola flew into the UK to give birth to her quintuplets at a cost of £200,000 to British taxpayers
The bill for caring for the 3,891 foreign maternity cases hit at least £13.3million in 2017-18.
Hospitals successfully clawed back £4.9million. But the amount outstanding would be enough to pay for an extra 350 nurses.
In one historical case, Bimbo Ayelabola, wife of a wealthy Nigerian businessman, give birth to quintuplets in Homerton Hospital, East London at a cost to British taxpayers of up to £200,000.
There are now stricter hospital checks, while rules requiring trusts to charge overseas visitors up front came into force in 2017.
However, they do not apply to maternity and emergency treatment. And campaigners warn the NHS continues to be seen as a soft touch.
Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “It is ludicrous that thousands of pregnant women arrive in England to have their child for free.”
One woman treated by the Royal Free London NHS Trust left an unpaid maternity bill of £116,000, our investigation found.
Britain’s biggest NHS trust, Barts Health in London, is chasing 232 mothers for costs totalling £1.7million for last year alone.
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Ineligible overseas patients cost the health service up to £2 billion a year for all forms of NHS treatment, according to Government estimates.
Thanks to the crackdown, officials have more than quadrupled the cash recovered in the past five years – from £89million in 2012/13 to £391million last year.
Health Minister Stephen Hammond told The Sun: “Every hardworking British taxpayer pays their share towards the costs of the NHS so it is only fair that overseas visitors make a contribution too.
“While nobody will ever be denied urgent care, we are ensuring the NHS continues to charge visitors who aren’t eligible for free treatment and it’s great to see that the NHS is recovering millions every year to re-invest in frontline services.”