MEPs approve plans for cross border healthcare directive
Posted, April 23, 2009 @ 15:00
Patients will have greater access to treatment across the EU
Patients will find it easier to travel abroad for treatment if their needs are not being met in their own country, said Conservative MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews, after he ushered through a directive driven by Conservative health spokesman John Bowis MEP.
Former UK Health Minister John Bowis has been a long time campaigner for the cross-border health rights of patients. Unfortunately, he himself has recently undergone an operation, requiring his Conservative colleague Philip Bushill-Matthews to step in to take the report through to the vote.
Previously a patient's right to seek treatment in another EU country has been decided by the courts, but following this report there will now be a framework in place that provides greater clarity on when and how a patient can travel abroad to receive healthcare.
Of particular importance for John Bowis is that the system is not exclusive and bases a patient's right to treatment on their needs rather than their means. Therefore a key feature of his proposals is that patients will not have to find the money to pay up front for their treatment and then claim it back at a later date. Mr Bushill-Matthews has called on the British government to drop its opposition to this aspect of the directive, which would only make cross-border healthcare available to those who can afford large upfront payouts.
Commenting, Mr Bushill-Matthews said:
"This is a great opportunity for patients with a recognised condition to seek treatment in another EU country if they so choose.
"Waiting for an operation is a very uncertain time for patients and the least we can do is put in place a system that will bring clarity to their situation.
"Patients should not have to go through a costly and lengthy court battle to find out if they can receive treatment and this framework will reassure them that they won't. Healthcare providers will now also have greater clarity on their responsibilities in this process.
"Everyone should receive equal access to treatment and this framework will ensure that a patient's right to treatment is based on their needs and not their means.
"Unfortunately the socialist group in the parliament could not support it. This should not be about ideology but about putting the patient first."
"This Report will show in practical terms that by working together at EU level people can benefit individually wherever they may live and irrespective of their means.