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Another Health Cheat Convicted In Hamilton

Media Release

Date: Thursday November 29, 2007

Another Health Cheat Convicted In Hamilton

A 26-year-old Chinese woman who gave birth to a baby at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton and said she had permanent residency entitling her to free health care, has been convicted of fraud.

Jing Wu was ordered to pay Health Waikato, Waikato District Health Board's hospital provider arm, $8988.09 for treatment she received when she gave birth to a son at the hospital on September 10.

Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams today said the woman was the second one convicted this year for lying about her eligibility in order to give birth for free at Waikato Hospital.

A 30-year-old Malaysian woman, Kalai Panaselvam, was convicted in August and ordered to pay $5000 owing to the hospital. She has since left the country.

In July Waikato DHB launched its campaign to crack down on ineligible patients who have cost more than $1 million in unpaid care over a year.

There are currently more than 20 overstayers in Waikato DHB's system who received free health care and not paid for it.

"For every dollar spent on an ineligible patient, that's one less dollar going on eligible patients. This is taxpayer money," said Mrs Adams.

In the latest incident, a vigilant staff member in the hospital's decision support unit suspected the documentation supplied had been tampered with. She queried the defendant's status with the New Zealand Immigration Service and it was then the deception came to light.

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Mrs Adams said the hospital had an obligation to treat any woman about to give birth.

"There would not be a midwife or a doctor ever refuse to treat women in these circumstances so it is sad to think there are now two women who have abused that responsibility of care which all clinical staff subscribe to," she said.

Mrs Adams confirmed Waikato DHB would continue to verify eligibility for treatment and, where appropriate, take legal action.


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