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MP wants to tighten NHS safeguards

Crawley MP Henry Smith has launched a bill in parliament that will force the NHS to record and audit the cost of treatment given to foreign nationals not entitled to free healthcare, reports

Smith claims that the UK paid £1.7bn in 2011 to countries that treated British nationals abroad, but it only claimed back £125m for foreign nationals treated here.

Smith's proposal is to create a system to determine who is eligible for free NHS care and to establish more robust methods to recover treatment costs.

He said that part of the problem was many foreign patients who wanted to contribute towards their treatment costs, found it extremely difficult to do so.

He told "Even when overseas patients try to pay often they are unable because the cost of their care is not recorded.

"A US citizen who asked for a receipt after receiving medical care in order to claim it back on their health insurance was told that an invoice was unavailable."