British citizen Jessie Akin was visiting England from Argentina with her one-year-old son, Leon last year. He had a fever and stopped drinking. She took him to the doctor where he got an emergency referral to the hospital.
On arrival at the hospital Jessie told the NHS staff that Leon (who was not yet registered as a British citizen as it is so expensive to do so) was not registered at the doctor as they lived in Argentina. Leon was admitted overnight and was provided with basic care (although no nappies were available in the hospital). At no point was any information given regarding the cost of the stay although Jessie asked about how much it might cost. She was given no clear answer.
Jessie was then sent a bill for £1,700. She tried to fight this cost, first arguing that she should be charged as a UK resident as she had lived and studied there in the last few years, only leaving for Argentina when she got pregnant as the rules on non-EU spouses did not permit her then boyfriend, now husband to live in the UK without incurring great stress and expense. She had also worked in the UK and paid taxes during her trip to England. After much back and forth, where she was asked to prove this residency, one year later, the NHS overseas advisor told her that since she wasn't born in the UK (she is half Swedish) and nor was Leon, she was not eligible for NHS treatment. Why he didn't say this a year ago is unclear.
Had Jessie known all of this, or had any of this been communicated to her at the time, she could have acted differently. She might have sat with Leon in A&E to see if he needed admitting through A&E, which would have been free under the NHS duty of care.
As it is, she has to pay £1,700 for the one night in hospital. She has asked for a break-down of this cost, which has not been provided.
How you can help Jessie and Leon:
1. Donate to help them cover the cost of the hospital. They cannot afford this. Who can afford £1,700 for one night in hospital?
2. Write to your local MP to complain about the way non-UK residents are treated and the lack of clear information in hospitals regarding the cost for non-UK residents.
3. Spread the word. If you are a journalist interested in covering the story please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will provide you with further information, pictures and quotes from Jessie.
4. Vote. Do not vote for the people who made these rules.