'Overseas patients have left the NHS with more than £150million in unpaid bills for treatment, a Daily Mail investigation reveals.
The cash could pay for 6,000 nurses, 22,000 heart bypasses or nearly 5,500 junior doctors.
Two hospitals in London are owed £28million each, including almost £500,000 from one patient alone.
The revelation comes amid a new-found reluctance among frontline staff to chase payments, with doctors' leaders saying their obligation to charge overseas patients is 'racist' and deters vulnerable groups from seeking help.
But Tory MP Philip Davies said: 'It is the National Health Service, not an international health service and it is essential these charges are made for overseas visitors.'
Freedom of information requests by the Mail found King's College Hospital in south London is owed £28.3million from foreign patients for treatment in the last few years. In east London, Barts Health Trust is chasing £27.8million of unpaid bills, including £467,000 from one patient, whose nationality or identity was not disclosed when questions were asked.
Although London hospitals have the highest debts, 23 NHS organisations across England are owed at least £1million from foreign patients.
In total, responses from 91 hospital trusts show they are owed £149.5million. But the true cost may be many millions more, with around a third of trusts – another 60 – failing to provide details.
In addition, the figures only account for those patients flagged up as an 'overseas visitor' who were charged for their care.
Many others may have had free treatment as staff presumed they were UK residents, or chose to turn a blind eye as part of a new drive from within the service.'
Read more: Revealed: Health tourists cost the NHS £150m in unpaid bills as doctors say asking for payment is 'racist' and hospital chases Nigerian mother for £500,000 over birth of her quadruplets three years ago
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Media linking NHS leak to Russia is absurd, but using the Atlantic Council & Ben Nimmo as the source is journalistic malpractice
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