Should Bill, 72, have his £10,000 operation paid for by the NHS?
Last updated at 11:18, Thursday, 02 August 2012
WHITEHAVEN man Bill Maudling needs an operation to save at least one of his legs.
On the plus side, he paid his National Insurance during a 40-year career and has never been on the dole. On the downside he has lived in the Philippines for 15 years and will return there straight after the op.
The dilemma now is whether he is entitled to have the operation free on the NHS.
Mr Maudling was devastated to learn that an operation to save at least one of his legs will cost him up to £10,000. He might have to pay because he has lived overseas for 18 years and not made any National Insurance contributions during that time.
On returning home from the Philippines specially to have the operation, Mr Maudling has been told he does not qualify for free NHS surgery.
“I am shocked, it’s a bombshell,” said the 72-year-old who is virtually crippled by blocked arteries in both his legs.
His brother John, who lives at West Row, Kells, said: “I feel personally responsible. I made inquiries before Bill came back and was told there was no problem, only to find out weeks later he will have to pay thousands to have the operation here.
“It’s unbelievable, we’re just gob-smacked. I was told that if Bill came home and re-registered for the NHS it would be all right.
“Doctors in the Philippines said that if he doesn’t get a by-pass on his left leg he is going to lose it. His right leg is also clogged and also at risk. Bill can’t walk more than 50 yards.”
Bill said: “I feel awful, just shattered. Why has it taken 17 weeks since I came back to hear I’m not entitled to have the operation free on the NHS? If I’d known straight away I would have gone straight back, but I couldn’t afford to have the operation in the Philippines either – it’s all private and would cost £23,000 there.
“I just don’t know how I could live without the use of my legs.”
Yesterday NHS Cumbria said “a patient may be entitled to treatment free on the NHS if it is an emergency”.
Mr Maudling insists: “I need the by-pass operation so blood can pass through my left leg.
“Even with a little cut, gangrene could set in and the leg would have to be amputated.
“How would anybody feel if they’d worked 40 years in Whitehaven, as I have, paid thousands of pounds into the National Health Service, never been on the dole, and then get saddled with a £10,000 bill for an hour’s surgery? I can’t have free treatment because I’ve been out of the country for more than five years.
“I’d never have left the Philippines (where I have a wife and two children) if I’d known. It’s cost me £700 to fly to England, the same again to go back, and another £500 a month to rent a flat on Coach Road. Both my legs are so bad that I can’t even walk into town.”
NHS Cumbria says: “It can be difficult for GPs to give clinical advice on whether an individual who previously lived in the UK would again be entitled to free NHS treatment if they moved back to the UK before they have had the opportunity to assess the patient and refer them for the necessary tests.
“This is because the patient may or may not need a certain type of treatment either provided by a GP or a more complex treatment provided in a hospital. In addition, a patient may be entitled to treatment free on the NHS if it is an emergency.”
A letter from Paul Wiggins, North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust’s overseas visitor manager, gives the potential cost of an operation from £5,000 to £10,000.
Mr Maudling, it says, was placed on the waiting list for an operation having stated he had not lived in the country for the past 15 years but intended to return overseas immediately after the operation “to resume residence in a country which does not have bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom”.
Mr Wiggins added: “I regret to inform you that you do not appear to qualify for NHS treatment and that consequently charges will apply for your out-patient attendances from April 2012.
“I need to make it clear that nothing prevents treatment taking place if the surgeon considers that it cannot wait until you return home and if there is other evidence which supports a claim to NHS treatment the Trust will consider the matter further.”
Mr Wiggins has offered to meet Mr Maudling at the West Cumberland Hospital. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is looking to see how it can help in the meantime.
First published at 11:05, Thursday, 02 August 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Just because he paid his NI when he lived here doesn't mean he is entitled to free treatment now, nor does it mean he is due a 'refund'. I'm sure he used the NHS services when he lived here. NI contributions are like an insurance policy, you pay incase you need it, you don't get your money back at the end. I agree with another poster, who would go and live abroad without medical insurance? Sorry sir, you need to sort this yourself.
Difficult one isn't it?!!!! Yes he HAS paid into the system, but he DOESN'T anymore. If every single expat came back into the country demanding NHS treatment when they needed it, then this would put even more strain on an already overwhelmed system. He chose to leave and by doing that he devoids himself from any NHS treatment he would otherwise be entitled to.See living abroad isn't all it's cracked up to be. The NHS is one of the best things this country has achieved and you soon realise how vital it is when you need it. He soon came back didn't he?!!!! Yes, scroungers get free treatment but any benefits they do get go straight back into the system, however they chose it spend it. Spent on food, cigarettes or drink, it all goes back into 'the pot'. Ultimately, no he isn't ENTITLED to free treatment. It's not a question of if he DESERVES it or not. I've only been paying into the system for about 10 years so does he automatically qualify for free treatment above me, even thought he's lived outside the country for longer than I've been paying into the system?? Hopefully common sense will prevail here.
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