London hospital could ask women to show ID before having a baby

Credit: John Stillwell/ PA wire

A London hospital is planning to make women show ID before having a baby - in a bid to crack down on so-called 'health tourism' in the NHS.

Under the proposals, women who attend St George's Hospital in Tooting would need to show photo ID or proof of their right to remain - such as their asylum status or a visa - before receiving maternity care.

Emergency patients would not be asked for their ID, the trust said.

St George's is planning to pilot the proposals before they are rolled out - but papers from the hospital's board say the Home Office is "very keen" to support such a scheme.

If women could not provide such identification they would be sent to the Trust's Overseas Patient Team "for specialist document screening, in liaison with the UKBA and the Home Office", the document adds.

The proposals are intended to stop the hospital losing money because of overseas visitors who are not entitled to NHS treatment using their services.

In e-mail included in the board papers from Jo Johnson, head of private and overseas patients for the trust, says the problem is escalating - and costing the local health economy around £4.6 million a year.

A spokeman for the hospital said the changes were necessary in order to 'use their resources wisely' - and said their current screening procedures for patients accessing care are 'not effective enough at present'.