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Cross-border Healthcare Network

York Research Project - cross border healthcare & patient mobility

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York Research Project - cross border healthcare & patient mobility

We have known for some time that reliable information on the numbers of patients seeking cross-border healthcare under the EU Treaty provisions (Art. 56) is in short supply. Accordingly, some months ago we commissioned the Health Economics Consortium at the University of York to carry out a targeted research and information gathering study to collect intelligence on public and patient knowledge, attitudes and preferences with regard to the proposed Directive, and to establish what the NHS was doing to ensure patients were able to access these rights. The study had two broad objectives:

- To develop an understanding of the public’s and/or patients’ responses to the Directive, including an assessment of the likely numbers choosing to travel;

- To assess the state of NHS readiness, including a review of current processes and the numbers being managed.

The findings from the report show clearly that this is an area that PCTs find complex and challenging. This has contributed to some PCTs applying criteria that do not have any basis in legislation or case law. The potential consequences of making an incorrect or unlawful decision are significant - with the possibility of court challenge, Judicial Review or Infraction proceedings from the EU Commission (which, if upheld carry an immediate fine of €9.6m).

Against this, it must be said that the main bulk of the research took place between November 2009 and March 2010 and we have worked hard over the past months on strengthening the message to the NHS and awareness and expertise in dealing with this agenda is improving all the time. We aim to build on this in the coming months as we move to implement the Directive (due in March 2011) - the findings from the report show clearly where the gaps are in NHS delivery and will help reinforce our communications and engagement. 

The final report may be found (and downloaded) in the the documents, policies etc. section of the Network.