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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ebola Scare: Britain Bans Hospitals on Treatment of Foreign Patients

All in an attempt at preventing the entry and spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the United Kingdom (UK), the British Health Care Authorities (HCA) have issued an administrative order to all National Health Insurance Scheme affiliated hospitals across the United Kingdom banning them from treating medical tourists, routine or emergency patients, particularly from Africa and any country where Ebola outbreak has been reported, especially if such patients have spent less than 21 days in the country prior to the treatment date. A spokesperson of the Royal Wellington Hospital in central London confirmed this statement saying that for a non-British resident to be treated in any public hospital, such a person must have spent 21 days in the UK. The British authorities are worried that it was the visit of the late Liberian Ebola patient, Mr. Duncan, that led to the Ebola outbreak in the state of Texas in the United States and they do not want such occurrence to befall their society. It was from the same Liberia that the late Patrick Sawyer flew the Ebola virus into Nigeria, which has led to the stigmatisation of Nigeria as an Ebola endemic region. Visitors and medical tourists who arrived in Britain since Wednesday October 15 have not been able to receive medical care from their regular doctors and hospitals despite having confirmed appointment with their doctors before flying down to the UK. Because of the huge waste of money and time involved, many of these patients have threatened to sue the individual hospitals and the British Government in the event that their health deteriorates any further. The directive has created confusion for both doctors and health insurance companies like BUPA International. Doctors in Britain are questioning the rationale for this directive and are afraid that serious legal problems might develop if this directive is truly implemented. The fear is if a patient with a well-funded insurance policy is flown into the UK in an air ambulance and the hospital refuses to treat such a patient because of the new 21-day rule what would happen if such a patient dies in the midst of the confusion? The British doctors are asking whether there is no better way of monitoring visitors from Ebola infected countries without denying all medical tourists, both small and big, from obtaining medical care? It would appear that the British Government is ready to lose part of the billions of dollars that flow into the UK annually on account of medical tourism. The way this plays out in the days and weeks ahead would be of tremendous interest. Source: The Guardian

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