With a dazzling smile and expensively-styled long hair, glamorous Dr Ola Orekunrin is a walking advertisement for the new multi-ethnic Britain. Not only was she — at 21 — the youngest person ever to qualify as a doctor but she has since held down important posts at a string of prestigious hospitals.
A shining example, then, of a talented immigrant giving back to the country that had given her so much. Although Nigerian-born she was raised by white foster parents in a Suffolk village and educated by nuns. But she retained her family connections to her homeland so no-one was surprised when she decided to give up the day job and launch an air ambulance service ferrying needy medical cases from Africa to Britain. All above board and paid for privately, of course.
Her venture, Flying Doctors Nigeria, gave her an enviable international profile. She was featured by Time, CNN and the Guardian. She graced the pages of Forbes as one of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs, and she was a hit on the international conference circuit with her TED talks. She was named a 2013 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum .
But the flying doctors career plummeted into the ground earlier this year when she was exposed as a liar and fraudster at a London medical disciplinary hearing. She personally jetted in a critically-ill burn victim from Nigeria, ‘dishonestly’ claimed the Nigerian was a UK resident, and obtained NHS treatment costing more than £45,000. This patient was then found to be carrying a deadly superbug infection which meant that one of Britain’s foremost burns treatment centres — a reception centre for injured servicemen — had to be temporarily closed because of the potential risk to other patients. NHS management is so notoriously lax that, if not for that last disaster, she might have been getting away with this racket to this day.
If you think that is bad consider the case of a pregnant Nigerian woman called Bimbo Ayelabola which was on the front page of the Daily Mail this week. She flew into London, promptly had her five(!) babies on the NHS at a cost of £145,000 and then went home without paying the bill. The hospital will not be pursuing her. These are both examples of “health tourism” where foreigners exploit Britain’s lax border controls to fly in, take advantage of health facilities, and leave without paying. Read more »