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Cross-border health care planned for European Union

Plans to facilitate cross-border health care have been announced by the European Commission following the European Parliament's removal of health from the forthcoming services directive (PJ, 4 March, p255).

Earlier this month, the commission announced a public consultation on how to guarantee patients’ rights to be treated in another country at the expense of their own national health system. The aim is to put the rights into written law so that people do not have to fight to recover the cost of treatment. In the past, some people have had to resort to the European Court to get their treatment paid for.

Health and consumer protection commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: “The European Court of Justice has ruled that patients have rights to cross-border care under community law, but there are uncertainties about what this means in practice. A clear, practical framework is needed to enable patients, and those who pay for, provide and regulate health services, to take advantage of cross-border health care where that is the best solution. This will also help to unlock huge potential for European co-operation to help improve efficiency and effectiveness of all EU health systems, while respecting national responsibility for their organisation and financing.”

Matters to be considered include:

· Terms and conditions requiring health care in another EU country to be authorised and paid for

· Providing information to patients about treatments available in other countries

· Responsibilities for supervising cross-border health care

· Responsibility for any harm and compensation

· Patients’ rights

Specific proposals are expected to be announced in 2007 following the consultation.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10002151

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