European health tourism scam ripping NHS off by £200million still going eight months after our exposé

CABINET ministers have broken a pledge to close a £20million a year health tourism scam exposed by The Sun eight months ago.

Today we reveal a fresh batch of fake European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) we have obtained in the name of Cabinet ministers – including Theresa May.


Eight months ago The Sun exposed a £20million-a-year euro health tourism scam which the government pledged to close down[/caption]

The Prime Minister herself vowed in January to close the unacceptable loophole that allows fraudsters to exploit British taxpayers by obtaining EHIC cards with false details.

She and the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered NHS bosses to put new checks in place after The Sun obtained 13 fake cards issued in the names of Cabinet ministers and even US President Donald Trump.

Since 2006 UK taxpayers have paid out an estimated £200 million to European hospitals for treating people who have obtained an EHIC card with false details.

Millions have taken advantage of the loophole to claim free healthcare across Europe – leaving Britain to pick up the bill.

The Sun obtained a fresh batch of fake European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) in the name of Cabinet ministers – including Theresa May

But today The Sun exposes the Government’s promise to close the loophole as an empty pledge.

We have obtained cards in the names of the PM, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and even one with the name given as Fake EHIC.

All we had to do was register for an EHIC card account and fill in an application form online using fake names and dates of birth and made-up national insurance numbers.

It took just ten days for the cards to arrive in the post.


UK taxpayers have paid out £200million to European hospitals for treating people with fake EHICs[/caption]

The Sun contacted hospitals on the continent asking what other ID we would need to claim free healthcare with the card – but they said patients only had to flash the EHIC card.

Figures show that the NHS issued 57million new EHIC cards over the past decade.

But a whistleblower said one in five applications are fraudulent.

He said he had issued more than 20 cards to the same address after bosses told him not to waste time on checks.

Getty Images – Getty

The NHS has paid out more than £1billion over the past decade — an average of £20 for every card issued[/caption]

Many Polish families are said to get the cards for relatives, who use them to reduce health costs at home.

The NHS has paid out more than £1billion over the past decade — an average of £20 for every card issued.

Around £200million, the cost of 8,600 extra nurses, is thought to be fraudulent.

The health service has reclaimed just £145million over the past five years.


Then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged in January to crack down on the loophole that allows the fraud[/caption]

Back in January Mr Hunt, the then Health Secretary said: “The Sun was absolutely right to raise the risk of fraudsters exploiting British taxpayers by fraudulently applying for EHIC cards – a serious criminal offence.

“We are aware of a small number of cases like this and I have asked my officials to speed up plans to crackdown on these scammers so we can protect our precious NHS.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said it was “clearly unacceptable” that the EHIC scheme was wide open for anyone to claim.

Setting out the steps officials will take to close the loophole, he said: “The Government is already taking action to revise the systems used for card applications, so we can eradicate illegal activity and stop people claiming treatment that they are not entitled to.

“We have tightened the residency evidence requirements for EHIC applications – additional proof of entitlement and residency is required, and customers must confirm a declaration acknowledging the penalties for misuse.

“As proof of entitlement for non-EEA nationals we now require a copy of a visa where relevant, a passport number, information on length of residency in the UK, and other supporting evidence – such as a letter from an employer.”


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