• Great Ormond Street Hospital has millions in overdue payments from international patients
  • Legal action launched over £1.5m debt
  • Trust says debt recovery is a “priority”

One of the world’s most famous hospitals is owed more than £30m by international private patients, HSJ can reveal.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust has a turnover of £444m and was owed £30m for IPP work at the end of August. In the last financial year, the trust’s income from this work stream was £55.2m.

In July, the trust had £24.4m in overdue payments from patients based abroad. The length of time some of them have been outstanding is now a worry to the organisation’s management.

The trust confirmed that this financial year it had engaged in one legal action over the recovery of a £1.5m debt.

A report to the trust’s most recent board meeting said a large proportion of the debt was over 200 days old.

It said: “Overall, the [international private patient] debt remains high and expedient recovery of monies owing remains a key objective for the trust.” There was an “increase in the doubtful debt provision due to IPP debt increase,” it added.

In a statement given to HSJ, the trust said: ”The vast majority of the current debt relates to cases of sponsorship by a government or other international organisation. We require pre-payment or letter of guarantee from international organisations so the debt is considered recoverable.

”For debt collection agencies, we have only referred self-paying debt (as debt through government organisations is considered recoverable). At the moment this is to the value of £105,000.”

GOSH has recently appointed a new manager to supervise debts from overseas patients and the report said over the summer, the trust was paid £1.5m it was owed by the Saudi Health Office and £2.7m owed by the Kuwaiti Health Office.

Minutes of the last meeting of the trust members’ council committee said: “The committee noted the substantial support that international private patients made at GOSH, however, the risk of IPP debtors and the concentration of activity with a small number of customers was noted. Discussion took place about IPP debt and it was reported that it was vital to ensure that good relationships were in place with embassies.”

London is a significant centre for private work from abroad and specialist trusts in the capital also compete to serve the foreign embassies based there.