Patients to get EU care choicegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 11:26 GMT
Patients across the European Union will be able to seek free medical care in other member states under a new deal.
EU ministers have agreed that patients who face long waits in their own country should be allowed to receive treatment elsewhere.
The policy, which is expected to come into force in 2004, will benefit patients in countries with long hospital waiting lists.
The principle has been agreed politically
EU Commission spokesman It follows a European Court of Justice ruling last year that patients can go abroad for treatment if their own country cannot provide care "within a time limit which is medically justifiable".
Under the scheme, all operations will have to be sanctioned by health officials in individual member states.
However, they will not be allowed to oppose valid cases.
A spokesman for the EU Commission told BBC News Online: "They still have to ask permission from their own health service but that permission will have to be granted if on medical grounds the treatment cannot be given at home in a reasonable period of time."
EU ministers have still to work out the finer details of the scheme, which will also need to be approved by the European Parliament.
For instance, it is unclear whether patients would have to pay for operations up front or whether hospitals could bill national health services directly.
"These details will be worked out in the first half of 2004," the EU Commission spokesman said.
"However, the principle has been agreed politically."
British patients have been travelling abroad for treatment since last year's European Court ruling.
Hospitals in France and Germany treat over 1,000 Britons each year. The operations are paid for by the National Heath Service.
The policy is a key part of government efforts to cut waiting lists.
A review of the scheme, published in August, found it was popular with patients.
-- Anonymous, December 04, 2002