Health watchdogs are to investigate a hospital over concerns it is giving too many liver transplants to foreigners.
The Healthcare Commission was alerted by NHS transplant bosses after figures showed that King’s College Hospital in London had given new livers to 72 non-British European Union nationals in four years. Of those, 37 were given to Greek and Cypriot nationals in what were classed as “private” operations.
The hospital, Europe’s leading liver transplant centre, insisted the figures were an anomaly caused by the fact the Greek and Cypriot governments operate a different funding arrangement with the Department of Health than other states.
The Government is usually paid a block fee by other countries to cover their citizens’ treatment in the UK. However, Greece and Cyprus operate a different system, paying hospitals directly on a patient-by-patient basis which means the procedures are classed as “private”.
A hospital spokesman said that the proportion of Greeks and Cypriots was so high because unlike most European countries, they do not operate their own transplant system. “There is absolutely no truth in the assertion that patients from outside the UK can ‘buy’ a transplant at King’s,” he said.
Copyright PA Business 2008
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“I think this is ludicrous, it appears to be some sort of attack on the best liver transplant centre in Europe, if not the world. My father recently had a liver transplant on the NHS and we couldn’t have asked for better care or treatment. The surgeon who carried out the transplant was Professor Heaton, and all I can say he is a very caring and humble man. Just meeting him for five minutes, you would see he does this for the love of his job and care for his patients, and not for money.” – Angela, London