Monthly Archives: April 2009

Case Study – European Treatment

The cover of the old British E111 booklet

If you are on holiday in Europe, it’s easier than you think to get treatment, so don’t worry about what might happen if you fall ill.  The most important thing is in many European countries you will actually get far, far better treatment in more hygienic surroundings.  BUT before you go, you must have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to confirm that you are entitled to treatment under the NHS in Britain, and then you are covered for basic care, but may have to pay a supplement if the clinic where you are taken is private.

EHIC won’t pay for current treatment if you elect to go abroad, but it will guarantee, if you fall ill whilst away with another condition, and it is an emergency, that you are entitled to treatment under NHS in UK for such an emergency.

The EHIC is for use in EU countries to pay for basic treatment.

However, you will also need private medical travel insurance to pay for ‘top-up’ if treated in a private clinic, and for repatriation if you need special transport home.

So you need BOTH the EHIC and private insurance.

How it works is:

The EHIC card gets you the basic treatment (although that can be superb in contrast to what we receive here).

This won’t cost you anything, However, you MUST have medical travel insurance as well – in case you need extras, to be repatriated, etc. which the EHIC card does not cover.

You MUST hand over your EHIC card when being treated, even though you have insurance cover, otherwise you could find your insurance company claiming against YOU for the cost of basic treatment which would otherwise have been covered.

To repeat – before you go abroad, even if you are paying for private treatment:

1. Apply for the EHIC card

2. Take out private insurance

3. Check what you will have to pay for privately with the cancer centre.

To get a card

You can either apply online for this card or get a form at your local Post Office (if you have one!)

So now you have the basics if things go wrong – there is nothing to stop you going off and enjoying yourself. And treatment abroad can be enjoyable.

Case Study: Medicine and treatment in France

Two friends who live down the street were surprised and pleased at how easy it is to get treatment in Europe. They knew I had been there to get help with cancer side effects, and were impressed.   So here, straight from the horse’s mouth, is what it’s like to go off abroad for treatment. Both had been passed around from one NHS pillar to another medical post, were fed up with years of waiting and wrong diagnosis, and just wanted to get things done. Now, they almost automatically book to go to France when they need treatment.

“When I wanted to find a prostate specialist when I had to go to Lyon, I merely googled :”Prostate specialists in Lyon” and up came various names, one of whom I called , got on to her secretary, and booked myself in. The cost was less than in London for seeing someone of comparable quality, I was seen immediately and laboratory tests were done on the same day, also at less cost, with the results coming through quite quickly.

When Robin had a problem with ingrowing toenails some years ago, we saw a French doctor within 10 minutes and the antibiotics were produced immediately, all at much less cost than here ( the doctor was in Paris ).

When needing a scan in Lyon, we booked up the appointment to coincide with our holiday in the South of France. No waiting, the scan cost £80 instead of £800 over here, and a doctor explained the results immediately afterwards in very good English. This was not on the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) as it was pre-booked. However, further tests were done by my friend Dr Degraix, one of the leading ENT specialists in Lyon, and drops were duly administered for the infection which cured it in 7 days, whereas it had taken months of footling around in the U.K and we didn’t get anywhere.

When in France, we are always falling off rocks, pulling muscles diving into swimming pools, getting appalling stomach upsets after yet another 5 course Michelin meal, and always having to see a doctor or go to hospital to get cured. The results are always much better than in the U.K, cheaper and more effective.

It is also definitely worth comparing medical costs on a pre-booked basis between here and France, and I haven’t seen or heard much about MRSA or whatever the latest bug is, but the French seem to have that under control”.


If you are living in Europe, and – say – you want a parent to live with you, but they will need medical treatment,  a spokesman at the Dept. Health went to a great deal of trouble to find the following
information for someone, wanting to know if a relative could receive treatment in France.  Bear in mind that if enquiring about another EU country, each may have its own variation of ‘local’ rules.

“I have just had the following response back from an official which I’m sure your readers will be very interested to read,  so if you could pass this on I’d be very grateful.

The UK can provide cover for the cost of healthcare provided in another member state but only in a limited number of circumstances.

If the person is in receipt of a UK state retirement pension and intends to live permanently in France,  you should contact the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777 to ask about the Form E121.

If issued, it will cover the cost of healthcare in France once it has been registered with the French authorities.

If the person is under state pension age they may still be entitled to healthcare at UK expense based on any recent payment of compulsory National Insurance contributions in the UK. Please contact DWP on 0191 218 1999 for information about form E106.

You also ask about the form E112 but its issue would only apply if the person was going to remain a UK resident ie. return to the UK after treatment. It cannot be issued for -say – 3 months as the period of validity of the form would be the period of treatment.

Should you wish to apply for an E112, you should contact your local commissioner. In England, this will usually be the Primary Care Trust which covers the area where the patient lives. Any paperwork obtained should be passed to DWP at the address below.

Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle)
Room TC001
Tyneview Park
Whitley Road
NE98 1BA”


Eurostar and the European Rail network have set new standards for looking after passengers with most types of disability, and their facilities are far superior to those offered by airlines (most space to start with).

I was asked to advise about ambulance transport UK to France:  this is possible, but it costs in the thousands.  As the patient was comfortable in a wheelchair, what I suggested eventually was to use Eurostar for Northern France, and Rail Europe if travelling further, and breaking the journey by staying overnight en route.

If the passenger is coming from outside London then it might be sensible to stay overnight, perhaps at the LandmarkHotel near by, or the St. Pancras Station Hotel is re-opening soon.

Then, ‘hire’ a nurse – preferably one  who knows the patient, to accompany them on the journey.  There are nursing agencies, but probably a better solution would be to have a word with the local hospital and find out if a nurse would be willing to have a paid trip.  This will be far cheaper.

Both Eurostar and Rail Europe are extremely helpful;  I would advise going Leisure First class, not standard.  Let Eurostar know if they are using a wheelchair, and ask them to make appropriate arrangements, including  assistance with getting wheelchair on/off the train (a very slick operation),  luggage etc.   Someone will be at stations at either end to look after the patient.  If a transfer from station to station in Paris is involved, Eurostar  or Rail Europe can book a taxi.

Wheelchair passengers go into a spacious carriage, with easy access to well-equipped loos.  If special catering is needed, Momentum (Eurostar’s caterers) can provide most special diets, but you must give at least 48 hours notice – best to do this when you book.