GPs to advise patients on European healthcare

GPs may have to provide information to patients about their rights to healthcare across European borders, according to a House of Lords committee.

Photograph: istockphoto
Photograph: istockphoto

The proposal from the European Commission for a directive on patients’ rights to cross-border healthcare has been welcomed by the Lords’ EU committee.

However, it calls for improvements and warns that, due to the unpredictable impact of the provisions of the directive, it must be carefully monitored upon implementation.

The committee agrees that the right of EU citizens to travel to another member state to receive healthcare has been confirmed by the European Court of Justice. It suggests a legal framework to replace the current ad-hoc arrangements.

The committee recommends a patient’s own healthcare provider should pay fees directly to the provider in the other member state and suggests that this could be linked with the process of securing authorisation prior to travel.

The committee adds: ‘It may fall to medical practitioners, such as GPs and dentists, to actually provide the information to patients, the committee argues that the directive should avoid the imposition of any administrative burden on healthcare professionals.’

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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