Safeguarding the NHS while giving taxpayers value for money.

Well done Conservative MP Henry Smith.

The Crawley MP has just launched a Private Bill in Parliament, which, if passed as law, will force the NHS to record and audit the cost of treatment given to foreign nationals not entitled to free healthcare.

Having researched the issue, Henry has discovered that the UK paid out £1.7 billion in 2011 to countries which treated British nationals abroad.

Yet in return Britain only claimed back £125 million for foreign nationals treated here.

Mr Smith told the Sussex Evening Argus recently: "Many hospitals do not even ask whether patients are foreign nationals, with one poll of NHS managers showing that a third of them did not routinely ask patients about their eligibility for free care."

"The issue of fairness is key."

"Fairness to the taxpayers that fund the system and fairness to those that use it."

Mr Smith wants to set up criteria for those eligible for free NHS care and to establish more robust methods to secure recovery of treatment costs because he believes the NHS could save "hundreds of millions of pounds a year" if money was pursued more vigorously.

Mr Smith added: "In Crawley, UK Border Agency officials see on average 150 cases a year at Gatwick Airport of heavily pregnant passengers arriving with visitor visas."

"East Surrey Hospital recently had to write-off debts of £425,000 for the treatment of foreign nationals who avoided payment."

"Even when overseas patients try to pay often they are unable to because the cost of their care is not recorded."

"A US citizen who asked for a receipt after receiving medical care in order to claim it back on their health insurance was told that an invoice was unavailable."