Couple facing huge NHS bill thanks Tavistock community for its help

Monday 23rd April 2018 7:00 am
Paul and Sophie ()

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A COUPLE who were landed with a £40,000 bill from the NHS after their baby was born in Devon seven weeks premature have thanked the Tavistock community for its help and said that baby Archie was doing well.

Paul Barnes, formerly of Tavistock, and Sophie Henley, became ‘official non-residents’ of the UK after they moved to Zambia about ten years ago — and each year they travel back to the UK to spend Christmas with family and friends in the county.

But, it was during their visit in December last year that things took an unexpected turn — their baby boy Archie was born seven weeks premature and was put into intensive care at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Despite Sophie being seven months pregnant and armed with a ‘fit to fly note’ from the doctor, they were unable to take out insurance cover in relation to the pregnancy but still decided to fly as Archie was not due until March 13.

Archie, who is now 11-weeks-old, was born on January 23 and it soon became apparent that even though they were British Citizens they would be responsible for all the hospital fees.

The family soon set up a JustGiving fundraising page and have since raised more than £9,000 thanks to friends, family and the community.

Paul, whose family live in Coryton, expressed thanks to all the local residents who have shown support to his family over this difficult time but said that Archie was doing well and they will be flying home to Zambia on April 29.

But before then, Paul and his two friends Ben Palmer and Ben Keeler, walked 31 miles on Saturday (April 21) from Belstone to Ivybridge to raise funds for Archie’s hospital bill. Anyone wishing to donate, can visit


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