News

Protecting cross-border healthcare

Published: 18 Mar 2019 00:01

Preparing for ‘no deal’ Brexit.

New legislation is being introduced to protect Scottish residents who have chosen to access cross-border healthcare in the European Economic Area (EEA) in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

The legislation aims to ensure there is no interruption to healthcare arrangements if the UK leaves the EU, and that the current arrangements remain in place for a transitional period until 31 December 2020 with EEA countries that wish to continue taking part in reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

Currently, eligible patients have the right to choose to receive treatment in other EEA countries and claim reimbursement from their home healthcare system on return. For specialist treatment, this is subject to the prior agreement of their local NHS Board. This right will no longer be in place in a ‘no deal’ situation.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“While Westminster remains in chaos, the Scottish Government is continuing to do everything we can to protect the rights of Scottish residents.

“It is unacceptable that the UK Government continues to ignore the wishes and interests of Scotland and has not yet ruled out a ‘no deal’ Brexit

“In these circumstances we have no choice but to introduce these regulations, which will protect people who have arranged treatment overseas but have yet to receive it, or have yet to claim reimbursement. They will also allow Scottish residents to continue to access cross-border healthcare in the EEA, and will allow citizens from other EEA countries to access treatment here, as far as that can be achieved. 

“We are doing everything we can go protect citizens’ rights and also to ensure that EEA nationals living in Scotland have full access to NHS healthcare without restriction.”

Background

The Cross-border Health Care (EU Exit) (Scotland) (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2019 were laid in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week.  They will now be considered by the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee and the Health and Sport Committee.

Currently, eligible patients have the right to choose to receive treatment in other European Economic Area countries and claim reimbursement from their home healthcare system on return. The obligation to reimburse is limited to treatment which is the equivalent to that which would have been provided at home by the NHS.