|Costly delivery: Bimbo Ayelabola with the quintuplets - three identical girls and two boys - in London in 2011 after she had a complex caesarean section|
A Nigerian health tourist who cost the NHS £145,000 having quintuplets has said she never even saw a bill. Bimbo Ayelabola, 37, had to have a complex caesarean section after travelling to Britain while pregnant in 2011. The operation and neo-natal care for the five babies cost the Health Service in excess of £145,000 – but Miss Ayelabola never paid a penny towards the bill.
Miss Ayelabola has since returned to her home city of Lagos, where she is a successful make-up artist who drives a £17,000 car. When confronted by the Daily Mail about the NHS bill, she said: ‘I have never received my bill. If I had it, I would pay it.’ The hospital involved yesterday admitted it sent only one request for payment, more than six months after Miss Ayelabola left the hospital – and had failed to take any further action when it was returned unpaid.
It said it would not be pursuing Miss Ayelabola for the money, even after the Daily Mail offered to pass on her address. The case follows a series of revelations by the Mail on the true scale of health tourism in Britain. NHS whistleblowers have told how bosses are instructing them to turn a blind eye to health tourists because it is ‘too much trouble’ to chase them for money.
Only around 16 per cent of the cost of treating health tourists is ever clawed back, according to NHS estimates. The Nigerian mother obtained a visitor’s visa soon after discovering she was pregnant in 2010, travelling to the UK to stay with her younger sister, Stella, early in her pregnancy.
|Back at home: The mother with her now four-year-old children in her native Lagos, where she returned to in February 2013 after outstaying an expired visa|
|The Nigerian mother obtained a visitor’s visa soon after discovering she was pregnant in 2010, travelling to the UK to stay with her younger sister, Stella, early in her pregnancy|
Miss Ayelabola’s children are now four years old and attending a private school. When she was tracked down by the Mail to the small salon she shares with other beauticians, she said she did not understand what she had done wrong. ‘What is it that’s my fault? I don’t understand,’ she said.
‘If it (health tourism) is a problem in the UK, you should talk to the NHS. I have never received my bill. If I had it, I would pay it.’‘They blamed me that I came to the UK and I just came to use the system. Which I did not do. She added that she was allowed to stay in the UK without needing to ask and without having to apply. ‘I did not want to stay... it was just my situation,’ she said.
MPs and campaigners last night described the case as ‘galling’ and called for an inquiry into the hospital’s failure to recoup the money. Conservative MP Peter Bone said: ‘If people have failed to do what they should, then at the very least they need to put in a robust system to ensure it doesn’t happen again.’ Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, added: ‘No wonder the NHS has such financial problems.’
Miss Ayelabola runs a successful make-up business at the Elderberry Salon in east Lagos. Her two boys, Tayseel and Samir, and three girls, Aqeelah, Binish and Zara, attend a respected private school nearby. Fees are at least £8,000 a year for the five of them. She is thought to live alone with them and when they are not in school, she takes them with her to work. She charges £40 per hour for a full face of make-up and advertises through her Instagram account, called ‘Otse Beauty’. On the account she posts photographs of herself and others in dramatic eye make-up.
It is understood Miss Ayelabola is separated from her wealthy husband, Ohi Nasir Ilavbare, but he is still involved in the children’s lives and is believed to pay for their education.
|She gave birth to two boys and three identical girls at Homerton Hospital in Hackney, East London, in April 2011 – seven weeks premature. But it has emerged that the hospital won't chase her for the bill|
The university-educated civil engineer runs two successful logistics firms, Spry and Radija, whose clients include British American Tobacco and DHL. In an interview in 2011 Miss Ayelabola said: ‘I had already had miscarriages and couldn’t bear the stress another pregnancy would cause. So I decided to visit my family in London. ‘I thought I would stand a much better chance of avoiding another miscarriage in a calmer place with friends and family.’
However, when speaking to the Mail she denied coming to the UK to give birth. She claimed she had no idea she was expecting more than one child and was planning to return to Nigeria to have the babies – until she had medical complications. ‘I stayed after my children were born because my kids were sick,’ she said. The multiple births are likely to be a result of double doses of fertility drug Clomid, which she took for eight times longer than recommended after buying the pills over the counter in Lagos.
Miss Ayelabola is understood to have left the UK voluntarily in February 2013, following contact with the Home Office. It is believed she has been banned from returning to Britain for five years. The UK’s system for flagging up foreign patients sees them treated before hospital staff try to claw back costs. In France, Germany and Scandinavia, patients must pay in advance. It means hospitals across England are targeted by thousands of health tourists a year.
|It is understood Miss Ayelabola is separated from her wealthy husband, Ohi Nasir Ilavbare, but he is still involved in the children’s lives and is believed to pay for their education|
|The university-educated civil engineer (pictured) runs two successful logistics firms, Spry and Radija, whose clients include British American Tobacco and DHL|
He added that Miss Ayelabola received a bill more than six months after she was discharged in 2011, which was returned to the hospital unopened. No further attempts were made to bill her, it is understood. A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that people living outside the UK think they can abuse our NHS. We expect and are supporting the NHS to make every effort to reclaim money owed to it.’
A spokesman for Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We hope the five children have prospered and are healthy. We would be pleased to reopen dialogue with Miss Ayelabola about her outstanding bill.’
- Daily Mail