Heavily pregnant immigrant carrying dead child wouldn't seek help as she was afraid she'd have to pay NHS under 'health tourism' rules

Woman, who could not afford to pay and whose visitor's visa was due to expire, feared she would not get a new visa to return to the UK

A heavily pregnant immigrant thought to be carrying a dead, unborn child was too afraid to seek medical help in the UK after being told she would have to pay the NHS thousands of pounds to remove the foetus, the High Court has heard.

The woman, who could not afford to pay and whose visitor's visa was due to expire, feared she would not get a new visa to return to the UK to live with her husband if she owed the NHS money for treatment under new immigration rules designed to deter "health tourists".

A judge heard she had declined treatment "in the hope that the foetus would, as she put it, come out naturally".

The unnamed woman's case came to light during a challenge at London's High Court to the legality of government guidelines relating to immigration rules for sanctions to be imposed on persons entering the UK who have unpaid NHS debts of at least £1,000.

The "NHS Debt Rules" were introduced in 2011 by the Government to discourage overseas visitors taking advantage of free hospital treatment, plus associated GP care. The move followed a press outcry over so-called health tourists adding millions to the NHS bill.

The legal challenge is against government guidance which allows NHS trusts to pass patient information to the Department of Health and to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) so that sanctions can be imposed on visitors who do not pay for their treatment.

David Wolfe QC, appearing for patients who have been charged or face charging, argued the guidelines are flawed because they lack proper parliamentary approval allowing confidential information about patients to be disclosed to those operating the sanctions regime.

Both the Department of Health and the Home Office defended the guidelines.

Marie Demetriou QC, for the Health Secretary, argued there was no breach of confidentiality because the information disclosed did not concern a patient's medical condition or treatment.

At the end of a two-day hearing, the judge said he would give his decision at a later date.

During the hearing, he was handed a written statement from Adam Hundt, of solicitors firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, representing the applicants, referred to as W, X, Y and Z.

Mr Hundt said that in 2013 many patients from overseas had been deterred from seeking medical help because of the new rules.

He said a "very worried" clinician at a hospital in London's East End had reported that psychiatric patients - some considered a potential risk to themselves and to others - were "too frightened" to seek treatment.

The clinician was "too fearful of repercussions from her employer" to permit him to name her or the hospital.

Mr Hundt also described how a woman had met a British man in her country of origin, fallen pregnant and come to the UK on a six-month visitor's visa.

She had developed complications with her pregnancy, and her baby had not moved for several weeks and no heartbeat had been detected.

The woman contacted Mr Hundt after she was told by clinicians at a hospital she visited that the failure to find a heartbeat meant that it was likely her baby had died.

They also told her that she would have to be artificially induced, but the treatment would cost approximately £2,500.

Mr Hundt said she refused treatment because she wanted to travel back to her own country in order to apply for a two-year wife's visa to live with her husband in Britain.

Mr Hundt stated: "She knew that she would not get a visa if she owed money to the NHS for this treatment, and she could not pay for - nor could her husband."

He said she "did not know what to do", and he had directed her to an international relief charity which ran a clinic staffed by volunteer clinicians.

He then lost contact with her.

Press Association

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker