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FOREIGN patients who undergo treatment in hospital but run off without paying have cost local health services £4.2million over two years – the highest amount in the country.

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Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, which manages Queen’s Hospital in Romford, and King George in Goodmayes, had to write off the money.

It is the largest amount of any Trust in the country, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) data collected by a national newspaper.

The culprits are, mainly, pregnant women from overseas who come into the country close to full term, before having their babies and fleeing, a Trust spokesperson said.

Emergency patients from abroad who do not pay for treatment are also a drain on resources, she added.

A series of measures has been introduced by the Trust to try to reduce runaways, including pre-admission interviews, so foreign patients are aware they may have to meet the cost of their treatment, accept that liability and have the means to pay.

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