• 50 trusts have extra “overseas income opportunity” of around £44m says NHSI
  • Trusts to be given centrally funded “bespoke support” to help recoup funds
  • NHSI says individual trusts have ‘opportunity’ to recover more than £400k per year

NHS bosses have launched a new programme to help boost the amount of cash recovered from treating foreign visitors.

NHS Improvement said it had identified an “apparent overseas income opportunity” of around £44m across 50 trusts, to whom it has written to today.

The regulator said the NHS would continue to ensure urgent treatment was never delayed or denied and that protections were retained for the most vulnerable. But it also suggested some trusts were not meeting their legal obligations on recouping funds from overseas patients which fell outside those red lines.

NHSI said that the trusts were chosen because they had been identified as the providers which had an “apparent overseas income opportunity of above £400,000 per annum”.

They will receive a “bespoke” support package including help from project managers “well versed in working with overseas patients” and “technical specialists depending on the potential themes and areas of opportunity (eg debt recovery, informatics)”, the regulator said.

A letter to finance directors, shared with HSJ, said: “We will also be supporting [the trusts] to manage debtors and improve their cash recovery position, targeting a rate in line with the national average (37 per cent) where possible.

“We would like to reassure you that being one of the 50 trusts is based purely on the opportunity to have a material impact on finances from an income and cash recovery perspective and thus further contributing towards the financial position of the trusts involved. 

“This is all centrally funded through 2018/19 with the potential to continue through 2019/20.”

NHS Improvement’s executive medical director, Kathy Mclean, said in a statement: “We know that many NHS trusts are meeting their legal obligations in this area already. We intend to share their best practice and work with those trusts that need the greatest support so that they can do the same.”