Couple evacuated from Wuhan face 10k bill to give birth in UK


A couple evacuated to the UK from Wuhan to escape the coronavirus may now be made to pay more than 10,000 to have their baby on the NHS.

Jed Jones, 28, and his 24-weeks-pregnant wife, Liu Pan, were quarantined in Milton Keynes for two weeks after being rescued by the British government.

They were released on February 23 after being given the all-clear and are now thought to be staying with Mr Jones' family in Gloucestershire.

But the couple, who had lived in Wuhan for two years before being evacuated, now face a worrying few months as Mrs Liu approaches her due date.

British citizen Mr Jones said because his wife only has a temporary six-month visa, she will have to pay for NHS care her labour could cost up to 7,800.   

He said they didn't know this would happen before they left Wuhan. The couple now face the possibility that she will have to return to China to give birth.

'I just want to ensure my wife is able to access the NHS,' Mr Jones said. 

'For me it seems unfair that we suddenly realise we are stuck paying thousands of pounds just to ensure the safety of wife and my unborn child.

'We followed government advice to evacuate, we went through their procedures.

'To me it seems like if they're going to issue visas, they should issue one that is suitable for the person and their situation.

'We didn't know about these costs and we didn't know this would be the situation when we were told to evacuate.'  

Mr Jones is now home in Lydney, Gloucestershire, but his wife does not qualify for free NHS care.

Hospital treatment is only free for people who are 'ordinarily resident' in the UK, meaning they live here most of the time.

Mr Jones moved to China seven years ago and his wife is a Chinese citizen, which excludes them from getting the childcare for free. It is unclear if he gets free treatment.

Mrs Liu was granted a six-month permit by Border Force after initially getting a visa waiver to come to the UK with her husband and go into quarantine.

Mr Jones said: 'I've got a quote for just the pre-natal care and it is 1,500. It could be up to 4,500. The birth could cost anything between 2,600 to 7,800.'

The fees would either have to be paid upfront or become a debt, which could affect her future visas.

The couple spent two weeks quarantined in Kent Hill Park, Milton Keynes, after arriving in to UK on February 10 but were discharged yesterday, February 23.

They have been married for five years. Mr Jones moved out to China to work as a software developer and met his wife, a graphic designer, seven years ago. 

Mr Jones claims that the entire time he has been in China he has worked for British companies remotely and has paid his taxes and national insurance in the UK.

'The issue appears to be that the Home Office have issued everybody with this six month visa, without really paying any attention to the aforementioned situation. Individuals, people, situations here,' he said

'What I have been told by the nurses here, if she was given six months and one day, she would have been able to access the NHS.'

Mr Jones said he has attempted to contact the Home Office through their special coronavirus helpline to discuss his situation but 'they weren't even really aware of us'.

'Their helpline didn't have any advice for us whatsoever,' he said.

Mr Jones says they directed him towards the standard immigration helpline who were also were unable to provide help.

'The result is, we are on this situation but we are unable to actually contact anybody who is able to effect real help,' he said.

The thought of his wife having to go back to China to give birth makes him 'really nervous,' he said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: 'We understand this is an unusual and challenging situation, and the NHS will never refuse maternity care.

'The NHS is a residence based service so overseas visitors are required to pay towards the costs of their treatment, just as British taxpayers do, but the NHS will always provide maternity to those who need it, including anyone repatriated from China.' 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

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