Cross-border healthcare could undermine equality, BMA warns

The BMA has warned that plans to extend patients' rights to seek treatment in other countries in the EU could undermine continuity of care and increase health inequalities.

Dr Terry John, chairman of the BMA's International Committee
Dr Terry John, chairman of the BMA's International Committee

In a response published today to proposals set out recently by the European Commission, the BMA highlights potential problems with translation of patient notes and cross-border sharing of information between healthcare professionals.

Dr Terry John, a London GP and chairman of the BMA's International Committee said: ‘We would like to see much more work done on some of the practicalities - for example, who will interpret and translate medical notes? How will information be shared between doctors in the home country and those in the country providing treatment?'

Equality may be compromised if patients are expected to pay upfront for care abroad or if they have to pay if there is a difference in cost between different health systems.

The BMA also called for a set of minimum quality standards for healthcare in Europe overseen by the EC, and a system of regulatory redress and compensation for patients who suffer unexpected harm as a result of cross-border healthcare.

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