The UK Government has today revealed the top-ten most common nationalities of foreign-born women who gave birth in their government funded hospitals in the last year.
A record one in four of all babies born in England and Wales in 2011 had a foreign-born mother, with women originally from Poland topping the list, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A total of 184,000 children were born in these circumstances, with other nations represented in the top ten including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh Nigeria and Somalia.
Almost half of all these were in London, which has a foreign-born mother rate of 56.7 per cent, far above the national average of 25.5 per cent.
According to official figures, the average hospital birth can cost £1,600, meaning the total cost to the NHS of these would have been at least £30million.
Some of the women will have been born abroad and settled in the UK but a number will have visited just to use the NHS.
So called ‘health tourism’ as a whole is thought to cost taxpayers as much as £200million a year.
Urgent treatment, such as maternity care, is provided regardless of residence status or ability to pay but hospitals must take reasonable measures to recover debts from overseas patients if they can trace them.
Some trusts are owed tens of millions by foreign patients and have been forced to write-off some of these debts.
It came as it was also announced that net migration to the UK is still at 216,000 a year, which is still double the Government’s 100,000 target.
This means that means hundreds of thousands more people every year are coming to the UK when compared to numbers who leave.
Meanwhile the number of foreign-born mothers is rising consistently annually, with the figures now double what they were 30 years ago.
Figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a 25.5 per cent of all children born in 2011 had foreign-born mothers, compared with 25.1 per cent the year before.
More than 20,000 were from Poland, followed by 18,000 from Pakistan, almost 15,000 from Indian and and more than 8,000 from Bangladesh.
It is the highest proportion of births to non-UK born mothers since parents’ country of origin was introduced in birth registration in 1969.
In Newham, east London, more than three quarters of new mums were born outside the UK but choose to give birth here.
The ONS found that a slight rise of 0.1 per cent in the overall number of newborn children compared with 2010 was entirely due to foreign-born mothers.
Women born in the UK had 1,957 fewer babies in 2011 compared with the previous year, in a reversal of rising numbers of births to UK-born women since 2002.
Meanwhile mothers born outside the UK had 2,702 more babies, in line with a trend since 1995 for the number of births to women who came to the UK from abroad to rise year-on-year.
‘It is rising every year because the number of non-uk born women living in the UK of child bearing age is also rising every year,’ an ONS spokesman told MailOnline.
‘The statistics are simply based on the birth registration process so there is no information about whether the mother then left the UK after having a baby.’
Dr Martin Ruhs, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the estimated figures were based on the International Passenger Survey (IPS) and margins of error meant they could be 35,000 higher or lower than stated.