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Patients “need clarity” over NHS-funded treatment abroad

17 October 2008

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People who go abroad for medical treatment must have “clarity and certainty” over what the NHS is willing to pay for, Scottish government health secretary Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) has warned.

A consultation is being carried out on health tourism as the European Union seeks to clarify rules on the issue.

The EU’s proposed Patient Mobility Directive would combine existing case law in a bid to make clear what rules will apply when people want to have treatment in another European country. The draft directive will be discussed at the council of EU health ministers in Brussels in December.

Ms Sturgeon explained the Scottish consultation of professionals, patient groups, health organisations and the public would be used to inform the UK government’s negotiating position and “help ensure that Scotland’s interests are safeguarded”.

“We want to ensure that, where Scottish patients choose to travel abroad for care, they have clarity and certainty about what they can expect the NHS to fund,” she said.

“Equally, it is important that the NHS is able to plan properly for the possibility of people from other EU countries coming to Scotland for treatment and ensure that Scottish patients still get the priority they are entitled to.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Scottish Government

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