GP blocks ‘racist’ war on health tourism – even though it’s cost her local hospitals £20million | Daily Mail Online

Corbynista GP blocks ‘racist’ war on health tourism – even though it’s cost her local hospitals £20million

The doctor behind a bid to force the NHS to stop charging foreign patients was a key figure in a campaign to ban the practice at hospitals owed £20 million by health tourists.

Last week delegates at the British Medical Association’s annual conference voted overwhelmingly to approve a motion that the Government’s policy of charging foreign patients should be ‘abandoned’, on the basis the NHS should be ‘free for all’.

Doctors claimed charging was ‘racist’ at the meeting in Belfast. Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the medic who put forward the motion – Dr Jackie Applebee – is a firebrand Left-wing GP who helped orchestrate efforts to stop charging foreign patients at financially troubled NHS hospitals in her area.

Jackie Applebee Turner, chair of Tower Hamlets BMA speaks at the Christmas protest outside old Royal London Hospital supporting Junior Doctors & Student Nurses fights against the government

Activists got managers at Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs five hospitals in London, to remove posters warning that ‘NHS hospital treatment is not free for everyone’ and to stop asking patients for photo identification.

East London GP Dr Applebee was ‘heavily involved’ in the campaign, according to socialist news site eastlondonnews.co.uk, which reported she asked people to sign a letter objecting to ‘patient eligibility checking’.

Barts Health has a huge problem with health tourism. Astonishing figures revealed by this paper under Freedom of Information laws show it invoiced 5,638 ‘overseas visitors’ for £29.3 million from April 2013 to December 2017 – the largest amount billed of all the 122 trusts that responded.

Yet it recouped only £9.4 million in that time – leaving it almost £20 million out of pocket.

Last year Barts ran up a deficit of more than £80 million, board papers show, while its patients have had to endure long waits for MRI scans due to equipment problems.

Dr Applebee started her campaign in 2017 when Ministers announced more stringent checks to ensure patients were entitled to taxpayer-funded NHS hospital care. Besides certain exceptions, ‘free’ non-urgent hospital care is reserved for those ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK.

She told the Socialist Worker newspaper that ID checks were ‘racist’, adding: ‘NHS care has always been free at the point of delivery to everyone on this soil.’

When the Department of Health asked Barts to trial checking all patients in two departments, she and fellow activists at Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) and Save Our NHS – two Left-wing pressure groups – penned their letter, which read: ‘It is bringing Border Control into our NHS, and destroying the NHS as a universal service, free at the point of use.

‘We oppose charging and ID checks at Barts Health Trust because… it encourages discrimination and racial profiling.’

By March this year, at least 250 people had signed the letter.

A Government-commissioned review estimated ‘deliberate health tourism’ and visitors ‘taking advantage’ of the NHS cost up to £280 million a year. At the BMA conference, Dr Applebee disputed the figure, saying the cost was ‘peanuts in the grand scheme of things’.

Last night, Tory MP Andrew Percy said Dr Applebee ‘should be ashamed of herself’.

He added: ‘The NHS is not Dr Applebee’s to give away. It belongs to the people of this country, who expect its services to be reserved for those entitled to them.’

Dr Applebee did not respond to a request for comment.

GP blocks ‘racist’ war on health tourism – even though it’s cost her local hospitals £20million

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