HC Deb 11 November 1977 vol 938 cc284-5W
Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services to what extent, and by what instrument, access to the National Health Service by persons not resident in the United Kingdom has been extended in consequence of membership of the European Community.

Mr. Moyle:

Before our accession to the Community visitors to the United Kingdom from other EEC countries, in common with other foreign visitors, were not denied urgent treatment under the NHS. Regulations EEC 1408/71 and 574/72, which came into force in this country in April 1973, provide for reciprocity in social security, including medical treatment, between member States. Since that date, employed persons who are nationals of other EEC countries and pensioners who were previously employed persons and their families, are entitled to urgent treatment under the NHS when visiting this country. In limited circumstances, persons in these categories may also come specifically for treatment. Treatment in either case is provided at the cost of the institution responsible for medical treatment in the country from which the visitor comes, but there are arrangements between the individual member States for offsetting the costs of treating visitors to either country.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many patients coming from countries without reciprocal health agreements with Great Britain have been treated on the National Health Service, excluding emergency cases.

Mr. Ennals:

People from countries with which the United Kingdom has no reciprocal agreements, and which are outside the EEC, who come to the United Kingdom to seek treatment are expected to come as private patients. It is not known how many succeed in obtaining NHS treatment as a result of misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

Mr. Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to increase the private facilities available in National Health Service hospitals to meet any unusually large demand in areas, such as London, where overseas patients come for treatment.

Mr. Ennals:

Under the terms of the Health Services Act facilities for private medical practice are to be progressively withdrawn from NHS hospitals and I have no power to increase them.

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