The biggest public hospital in the Australian state of Queensland has secretly banned some treatments for non-Australians in a bid to save money, The Courier-Mail reported Monday.

The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital recently began rejecting overseas students and visitors from certain countries, telling them to find a private hospital or go back to their own country.

Patients being turned away are those from countries not listed among the nine nations with which Australia has reciprocal health care agreements allowing costs to be recovered.

Those exposed to the ban include Americans, those from all Asian and African nations and many from across Europe.

The ban only applies to non-emergency maternity and gynecological procedures but would have applied to 116 ineligible patients in the previous six months.

Queensland's health department refused to say whether other hospitals were implementing the edict but defended the decision as a measure to ensure taxpayers were given priority.

Countries not affected because of their agreement with Australia are the UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Slovenia, Malta and Italy.

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