Foreign Health Tourists Putting NHS Patients Lives at Risk

by Editor | April 29, 2014 4:12 am

FOREIGN HEALTH TOURISTS PUTTING NHS PATIENTS LIVES AT RISK – It has long been acknowledged that foreigners entering the UK with the remit of accessing the NHS for free treatment is costing hundreds of millions of pounds to the taxpayer each year.


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However, now a more sinister side to health tourism has arisen after health officials confirmed a new superbug has entered the UK brought in by a person who sought medical treatment in New Delhi, India.

The superbug, known as New Delhi Metallo, is resistant to all known antibiotics accept one which is sweeping through Britain’s hospitals at an alarming rate making even routine operations far too dangerous to carry out.

A recent study carried out by Public Health England (PHE) reveals that only one antibiotic remains affective at killing the New Delhi Metallo enzyme and if it becomes immune the consequences could be devastating.

From the PHE report they claim that New Delhi Metallo was bought into the UK after someone visited New Delhi and required medical treatment.

Worryingly the drug used to kill New Delhi Metallo is that of coliston, a drug that has almost become obsolete after being widely used in the early 1980s, but experts state that it is only a matter of time before New Delhi Metallo becomes immune which will leave NHS patients at severe risk if they become infected.

Medical researchers have been trying out a number of different antibiotics on New Delhi Metallo however the effects have been extremely limited.

New Delhi Metallo first appeared in India in 2006 and was brought to the UK in 2008. During 2008 six cases of infection were recorded but in 2013 this increased to 148 leaving health experts concerned that New Delhi Metallo is on the rise.

“The results of this study are a stark reminder of the issue that we are facing with the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Having only one antibiotic available for treating patients with this resistance mechanism and limited effectiveness with a further three represents a great challenge for the future of healthcare as we know it.

Some affected UK patients had travel-related risk factors, but cases in the community setting show the potential for these resistant bacteria to spread even further.

We are actively working with our stakeholders to address the issue of resistance head on as this is one of the most pressing healthcare issues of our time.” Professor Anthony Kessel, Director of Public Health Strategy

There is no doubt in our minds that health tourism is now having a negative impact on Britain’s health care system; but as you can see it’s not just related to those who come to Britain seeking medical attention.

The issue here is also of British citizen leaving the UK in order to obtain medical treatment where it either cannot be found in Britain or that the patient is denied certain treatment, mainly due to costs.

Health tourism, both outbound and inbound, has unquestionably become an increasing trend with thousands of foreign nationals entering the UK for treatment whilst an equal amount of British citizens leave to seek out treatment.

It is not surprising that such a superbug has found its way into Britain and it could have come from either a foreign national seeking medical treatment or from a British national who sought treatment abroad; as it did in this case.

Regardless to which causes a superbug to enter the UK is irrelevant but rather that we know the possibilities and therefore Britain should clamp down on foreigners entering the UK to obtain medical treatment and it must provide better levels of treatment, at affordable prices, so that British citizens do not feel the need to holiday abroad with the specific remit of having medical treatment.

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