Local Lib Dem Euro MP Catherine Bearder celebrated today after MEPs paved the way to make it easier for British citizens to get healthcare in Europe if the NHS can't provide it.
If the NHS can't provide an operation within a reasonable timeframe, the report passed by the European Parliament recommends making it easier to find the healthcare they need elsewhere in Europe.
"The new rules mean patients now have more choice on their healthcare. They are a real milestone for cross-border healthcare in Europe."
"Patients with rare diseases or those that are stuck on long waiting lists, will be given an alternative way to get their treatment if the NHS can't do it quick enough."
"Patients will be given important information of the quality and standard of care as well as the kind of treatment they are likely to receive in another EU Member State."
"The new rules are not designed to encourage health tourism. Patients are only entitled to reimbursement for treatment that their home health authority would normally provide."
- The new cross-border health care legislation will now have to be approved by national ministers in the European Council before being transposed into national legislation. The new rules could be in place as early as 2013.
- Currently, UK citizens who fall ill abroad can already access emergency care across the EU with their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The new scheme is designed to help in cases where the nearest hospital or specialist clinic is in a neighbouring country or where a particular treatment can be provided faster or more expertly abroad.
Patients from other Member States travelling to the UK specifically for healthcare will have to pay the full NHS cost of treatment to be reimbursed in their home country - as will be the case with British patients abroad.