§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider taking measures, for example, requiring a substantial deposit in advance to guard against the danger of default of payment by foreign nationals requesting private medical treatment in the National Health Service.
§ Mr. Ennals
Patients admitted to National Health Service hospitals seeking private treatment are required to give, or be the subject of, an undertaking to pay hospital charges. Accounts are normally rendered weekly and patients are expected to settle their accounts before they are discharged. Local management have been advised that it is essential that they should be satisfied of an overseas patient's ability to pay before he leaves his home country and that they should also consider obtaining a deposit before his admission which may cover part or the whole of the cost of his expected duration of stay. Unpaid debts by foreign nationals are unusual, but I am nevertheless considering whether we can improve the system.