EU court clears way for British patients in France

16th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

LUXEMBOURG, May 16, 2006 (AFP) - The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday in favour of a British patient seeking reimbursement of medical costs in France, in a judgment with potential implications for British authorities.

LUXEMBOURG, May 16, 2006 (AFP) - The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday in favour of a British patient seeking reimbursement of medical costs in France, in a judgment with potential implications for British authorities.

The European Court of Justice upheld a case brought by British pensioner Yvonne Watts, who underwent hip replacement surgery in France in 2003 at a cost of 3,900 pounds (EUR 5,700, according to current rates).

Despite being in constant pain due to arthritis, she had initially been told that she would have to wait for a year for a 'routine' operation in her local hospital in Bedford, north of London.

Her local health authorities also refused to grant her an E112 form, which would allow her to undergo medical treatment in another EU country, after offering her a reduced waiting time of three to four months.

In a complex, 33-page ruling the EU court ruled in favour of Watt in the case brought against her local health authority, Bedford Primary Care Trust, and the Secretary of State for Health.

"The obligation to reimburse the cost of hospital treatment provided in another (EU) member state also applies to a national health service which provides such treatment free of charge," it said.

"In order to be entitled to refuse a patient authorisation to receive treatment abroad on the ground of waiting time for hospital treatment in the state of residence, the NHS (United Kingdom National Health Service) must show that that waiting time does not exceed a medically acceptable period having regard to the patient's condition and clinical needs," it added.

Watt underwent surgery in Abbeville, northern France in March 2003, and subsequently sought reimbursement through the High Court of Justice in London, before the case was referred to the EU court.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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