Category Archives: Treatment in Europe

Isn't it about time the Government learnt from Europe, and saw why their post cancer survival rates are better?

They could start with the country of La Dolce Vita, which has  surprisingly sophisticated medical treatments


Before the election, David Cameron was using Europe’s better post-cancer survival statistics as an electioneering platform.

Now, whenever Andrew Lansley gets up to talk he repeats the same mantra.  One of these days I shall stand up and ask, “well why don’t you go and see what is being done in Europe?”

If Italy can provide the most effective and efficient post cancer treatment, in delightful surroundings, it seems incredible we don’t send doctors and physios to copy.

I have just returned from Petriolo Spa Resort, near  Sienna, where I went to get a medical MOT, and in particular do something about my skin.

Osteoporosis had hit in the past year, and as a result my medics have put me on the most horrible tablets which wreak havoc with my skin – not to mention my appetite.

We had the greatest difficulty finding the spa, as the setting is so gorgeous we kept on driving past, imagining it was a five-star hotel.  Eventually we drove in, and this really was the place.  Once inside, we just couldn’t believe what is offered to people who want medical treatment – this is state-of -the art cutting technology, combined with a gracious Italian way of medical care.

As with all medical health spas in Italy, this is  in the Government system, licenced by the Ministry of Health.  The doctors one meets are ‘proper’ doctors, and incredibly enthusiastic about offering the best treatment possible for their patients.  Shortly after you arrive, you have an appointment with a doctor, who advises you which of the many pools you can use.

‘My’ doctor was Dr. Elena Ceccarelli, an Endocrinologist.   Very competently she took my medical history, then charmingly advised which thermal pools I could use;  but said the main one, fed by warm sulphur springs at a temperature of 42 º, was a no-no with my skin problems.

Then she said NO to the sauna as well, and I must remember to take her advice.  . But there were plenty of other pools to swim and jump around in.

The attention to detail was fantastic, and having been lulled by the luxury, one began to sense there was a  serious purpose underlying all the treatments.

Medical Director

My first appointment with the Medical Director, Dr. Luigi Brocchi, was fascinating.  He was in charge of the whole complex, and trained in Sienna as a surgeon.  He then began to get very interested in his patients as a whole, and what happened to them once they had left his operating theatre.

Gradually turning to doctoring, as opposed to surgery, he is now noted for Angiology, which is the medical specialty studying diseases of circulatory system and of the lymphatic system,  i.e., arteries, veins and lymphatic vases, and its diseases.  We call this angiology,  but in the States it is called Vascular medicine.

360º treatments

He may be in charge of a team offering the latest treatments, but his speciality is old-fashioned doctoring, or as he puts it, “providing 360º treatments”.

What is the form?

Your doctor can refer you to Dr. Brocchi, or you can self-refer and book yourself  in.  In Europe they assume we are gown-up enough to know what we need, and the Choose and Book’ system would send Italians off screaming.

When I asked Andy Burnham (Minister of Health in the last Government), what he would like to adopt from European system of healthcare, he had no hesitation in saying “get rid of doctor’s referral letters”.

If you want to spend your money on a treatment that might be superfluous that is up to you.  But 99% of patients know what they want, and doctors and hospitals in Europe give it to them without a fuss.

If you self-refer, remember to bring all your relevant letters and forms for the doctor who admits you.  Visitors who come for treatment are examined by a doctor, before they are allowed into these thermal waters – and even friends and family who come with them are encouraged to see the doctor.  “After all, it’s free”, they are told with a charming smile.

I was examined by Dr. Elena Ceccarelli, an Endocrinoligist, who knew all about dry skin and side effects from drugs.  She surprised me by saying I mustn’t go in the two hot pools – at 43º they would dry out my skin, etc. Neither should I use the Sauna – again bad for my skin, and something to remember for the future. But this didn’t worry me, as there were two other large pools I could use, plus lots of smaller ‘fun’ pools, each exercising a different part of the body.

The hot thermal waters contain Sulphuretted-saline-sulphate-bicarbonate-alkaline-terrene water, so there is a slight whiff of sulphur as you pass by, but six feet away you can’t smell anything.  However, on our way to the Spa we had passed the Farna River, where people were bathing in the thermal waters where the Romans and the Pope had been before them, and the whiff of sulphur hit you as you drove past.  As I was shown around by Barbara Scorza, I asked why their pools only had a minute amount of sulphur smell.  She said this was because they pumped the waters up 1000 feet higher than the river, which dispersed most of the smell.   So all the benefits of sulphur, without the smell!  Clever.

What does Petriolo treat?Guest having massage

It might be better to ask for a list of what it doesn’t treat – but here is an outline:

  • Acute articular rheumatisms
  • After effects of psoriasitic
  • After-effects of disk, hernia, euritis and polyneuritis
  • Cardiac vascular diseases
  • Diseases of the respiratory system
  • Gynaecological ailments
  • Osteoarthrosis
  • Pagets and duputren’s disease
  • Rhinitis
  • Sequelae of fractures and sprains
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin disease (acne, seborrhoea, chronic eczemas erythema, psoriasis, pityriasis, tooth-rash, sycosis, cellulitis)
  • Spondylarthrosis of the vertebrae
  • and of course the problems I had come with after cancer – there is a fuller list on the website

Rooms, Food and other essentials

English-speaking staff welcomed me by name as I came through the door, and I was shown to a room with breathtaking views across wild Tuscan hillside inhabited by wild boar and porcupines.Junior Suite

The room was an incredible show-case for beautiful Tuscan craftsmanship.  The floors were inlaid marble as was the bathroom, and I relished the luxury.  It sounds OTT – but in Italy it is par for the course!  As I unpacked, I found the coat hangers were ‘proper’ ones – not those horrid thief-proof ones most hotels give you today (you try reaching up to click them in place when you are only just over five  foot!).

I could have stayed leaning over the balcony for hours – but pools, gym with fun machines, and even a walk in the forest beckoned;  if you want to go walking the boars and porcupines keep well away from humans, but you might find porcupine quills.

So it was off for my first treatment for dry skin, then a blissful time where I meant to try out all the pools – but just stuck to the big one and floated up and down.

The Spa Team

“Sineidos” is a Greek word dear to the Medical Director, Dr. Brocchi.  It means  “being aware”, and has lent its name to Petriolo Spa Resort’s L’Accademia di Sineidologia, that takes shape in the Well-Being Studio.  Based here is  a group of medical professionals, well-being specialists, personal trainers, nutritionists, cosmetologists and chefs, who create and perform selected treatments, combinations of classical and alternative medicine, preparations of fresh biocosmesis, energy dieting and a lot more besides.

The team also treats Nutrition and Diet, Osteopathy and Posturology, Physiokinesitherapy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, food intolerance testing, Reumatology, Traditional Thai Massage, etc.   etc.

And if you want to wander off into the Tuscan hills, this is the perfect location to explore arts, history, food and the wines in Siena, San Galgano, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Castiglion della Pescaia, Argentario, etc.

Gourmet Food

That evening I was exhausted – doing nothing except having a nice friendly medical ‘chat’, having a specialised massage and trying out the swimming pools makes one tired!

So I decided on a simple chicken dish for dinner; the rest of the group decided on fish..  But what dishes!  Pasquale D’Ambrosio, the Executive Chef, has a strong following, and this meal showed why.  It was the most fantastic gourmet meal – showing how a good chef can transform the most simple ingredients into a superb meal.  Bliss!food

Massage

obviously plays a big part in treatments, and I was given ones tailored to my skin problems.  A combination of deep, warm thermal mud and various oils massaged in with superb skill restored my skin so well, that one month after my treatments my  skin is still smooth.  There are no rough patches, and if I miss a ‘creaming’ it doesn’t matter – long may this last!  So the MOT produced excellent results, and I will be returning for more treatment (if only we had this on the NHS!)

It might also be due to a trial bottle of special skin oils being developed by Dr. Brocchi.  He gave me a sample, which  seems to work extremely well;  and as soon as the range is on the market I will be writing more.

Dr. Brocchi had also taken note of my other ‘aches and pains’, and made sure that the exercise classes and other treatments were tailored to my recovery.  Even having a facial, the therapists are well-trained and ensure that you skin is treated to mitigate the effects of drugs.   There were other treatments some of us tried out – I will be writing about these on another posting.

Polio and problems with balance

My ‘consultation’ ranged over so many topics, and I happened to mention I had had polio.  Immediately Brocchi picked this up,  and asked if I had been tested on a Pedana Stabilometrica machine?  Seeing my  bemused look,  he picked up the phone and told Elisabetta Urgelli, their Gym Manager (and Certified Fitness Instructor) to take me under her wing.

I spent over an hour ‘playing’ with this machine;  there aren’t many around, principally because they cost around £40,000 each.  But to anyone who has problems with stability, this gives incredibly complex and accurate measurements to enable physios to target which muscles need exercising.  http://after-cancer.com/exercise/when-you-are-unsteady-on-your-feet/

Cost

– rates are incredibly low for such superb rooms, food and treatments.  The price of a double for one night is from €190 (about £180);  cheaper of course for longer stays.  If you go on the website you can see all-in prices, special deals, etc.   B&B (including room, breakfast, initial consultation with doctor, use of gym with incredible machinery, the Kneipp programme, and a natural water massage) is €990 a week (£900 approx)

www.petriolosparesort.com

How to reach the Hotel:

By car coming from north:

Highway A1 exit “Firenze Certosa” turn right following the indication “Siena 4 corsie” for 62 km.

Close to Siena follow direction to Grosseto (S.S. 223), at the km 40,600 on the left side you will reach the main entrance of the Hotel.

By car coming from south:

Highway A1 exit “Valdichiana” turn right following indication (S.S. 327 Siena-Bettolle) 50 km.

Close to Siena follow direction to Grosseto (S.S. 223), at the km 40,600 on the left side you will reach the main entrance of the Hotel.

More information on http://healthspanews.com/petriolo-spa-is-2000-years-old-but-offers-latest-high-tech-rehab/

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Going ski-ing? Take a day off to improve your health

Snowboarder in the halfpipe.
Image via Wikipedia

Taking advantage of a winter holiday

As you head off to the slopes, you are going into an area that David Cameron says has better health care than offered in Britain.  So why not take advantage of being on the spot to get a top-notch medical MOT whilst you are in the area?

From Finland to Italy, European hospitals are up-to-date, work with new techniques and equipment, and very often if you have to pay for a consultation, are cheaper than the UK.

And friends who have taken half a day out to find out if anything can be done about niggling problems, come back raving at the service.  Comments like “I’ve been up and down Harley Street, and had to go to France to find out what was wrong” (Michael C), and “my knee just wasn’t right after a knock on the playing field – but it took an Austrian doctor who deals with Olympic skiers just spent a few minutes to find out exactly what was wrong.  I discovered afterwards that UK football clubs fly in their players to see him”  (Barrie F-S).

And if you have anything wrong with your legs, almost certainly the highly-experienced medical teams in ski resorts will be streets ahead of what the NHS can offer.

So it makes sense to go to a local medical centre, hospital, rehabilitation centre, medical spa etc.  and book in for a consultation to sort out medical niggles – or even get post operation and medical drug side effects sorted out.

It won’t be expensive – unless you are going to the creme-de-la-creme, Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland.  But if you can afford this you probably already include a check-up every time you visit the country.  The medical team there, led by Dr. Walli, are some of the top experts in the world.

So how do I find a suitable venue/doctor?

  1. Ask your GP.  Some are becoming very knowledgeable about European medical care.
  2. Ask friends – more and more British are ‘using’ European doctors, or have friends who live in the country and can recommend doctors/treatments.
  3. Send an email to the Tourist Board of the resort where you are staying.  It is their job to advise all visitors about what’s available in their resort.  Russians are fast becoming the most sought-after visitors, and they frequently go abroad for a medical check-up and a holiday.
  4. Or contact the Government-funded tourist board of the country which will be in London.  Ask them.  Some boards have a special department dealing with medical tourism, and they will all be able to refer you to centres approved by their relevant Health Ministry.

Warning! Before you make an appointment, go on the Internet, Google the clinic / doctor’s name, print out the information and ask your doctor to check the credentials.

What will it cost?

You will be given a list of prices;  if one clinic is very much cheaper than another, then you know why to avoid this.  Otherwise costs are often lower, in some cases much lower, than in UK.

Do they speak English?

English is widely spoken.  Speaking English is the mark of an educated person, and many have done training in USA and Canada.   I even met an eminent Swiss surgeon who had gone to Glasgow General because stitching up noses, ears and limbs after Saturday night fights “gave me the best training in invisible stitching”;  which is now used in plastic surgery on Hollywood celebrities.

What happens at appointment?

The Clinic system is almost unheard of.  You will have time to talk (very often the first appointment will be an hour).

You will have already given details of what is your problem, so the doctor/specialist will have a good idea of what you will need.  If they then say you need tests, scans, or to see another specialist, an appointment will already have been pencilled in so you will probably walk straight down the corridor into another room.

Most countries, particularly France, Italy, etc. have more doctors per head of population than we do in UK, so often the doctor will have time to spend a few minutes on ‘pleasantries’ and getting to know you, before business.  Not always though;  I went to see a brilliant dermatologist at La Roche Posay who may have spoken English, but as all he did was grunt – frequently – as he examined all my numerous skin lesions, I wasn’t sure!  But his visit did the trick!

What if I decide to go on the spur of the moment?

I have often done this.  In Europe if you think you need a doctor, you are regarded as being intelligent enough to decide this yourself.  What you may have to do, if you haven’t given the Receptionist enough information, is to go to a ‘gatekeeper’ doctor, who will then refer you on to the appropriate person.  You will have to pay for their services, but generally this is minimal, and you will see someone within a short time.

And don’t worry if the hospital your friends take you to is private or part of the country’s national health service.  Having been taken to a local hospital in the tiny town of Klagenfurt, in Austria, I was so dazzled by the shining chrome, spotless atmosphere and fantastic equipment I kept on handing over my credit card.  Which was refused – it was all part of their health service.

What should I take?

1.  Referral letter from your doctor – if possible faxed or emailed beforehand.

2.  All X-rays – if these were taken in an NHS hospital you may have to pay for these.  Again if they are on disc you can send these in advance, or your doctor will do this.

3.  Results of any tests.

4.  List of medicines you are taking with amount, numbers of times a day/week and if possible the brand name and the ‘medical’ name  (prescribed, over-the-counter and herbal supplements)

Finding more information, and remember in Europe Medical Spas often specialise in top quality medical rehabilitation:

AUSTRIA

Österreichischer Kurorte- and Heilbäder Verband (Association Health Spas and Centres)  http://www.oehkv.at

FRANCE

Official French site for thermal spas:at the moment it is in French, but it is simple to browse   http://www.cneth.org

Information on Medical Spas in the Rhone-Alpes region www.balineae.fr

http://www.france-thermale.org/

GERMANY

These sites are all official German health service sites:

http://www.german-medical-online.com/Category/Hospitals/
http://www.germanmedicine.net/

*Cancer Information Service (part of German Cancer Research Centre)
krebsinformationsdienst@dkfz.de

www.dkfz.de/en

German Cancer Association
www.krebsgesellschaft.de

deutsche@krebshilfe.de
http://www.krebshilfe.de/english.html

ls/clinics/medical centres

And enjoy a new experience!

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Lufthansa follows David Cameron's advice

The new coalition Government has highlighted better health care in Europe

Now, Lufthansa is making Medical Travel To Germany easier

With David Cameron and Andrew Lansley saying they want to improve medical care in Britain, to bring it up to European standards, Lufthansa has just made travelling to Germany for medical reasons a whole lot easier.

Ever since the election, I have been trying to find out what UK patients have to do to access this promised healthcare;  having just spent two days on the phone to the Dept. Health, trying to find out who has been tasked with looking into European healthcare, and seeing what can be done to copy this in the NHS, I was told by an official

“These questions cover a wide range of areas, and would involve me speaking to five or more policy officials, taking up a great deal of mine and my colleagues time, in order for me to get answers for you. And, once we have answers, you are likely to have follow-up questions.

….. In the meantime I would suggest you speak to local NHS services, or charities, for anecdotal evidence of how links are being forged with European health services”.

Talk about a cop-out! Isn’t it lovely that these officials think they aren’t there to do anything – but in my naivety I thought they were paid by the taxpayer to provide answers to sensible questions.

However, if you don’t want to wait until the NHS drags itself up by its old-fashioned bootlaces to crawl in to twenty-first century medicine, international patient consultant Premier Healthcare Germany, based in Hamburg, assists patients from around the world in selecting and obtaining high quality medical treatment in Germany. Germany is internationally renowned for its focus on quality, scientific research, and evidence based medicine while still maintaining an affordable cost for treatment.

The scheme offers

•Reduced fares in economy, business, and first class due to the cooperation with Premier Healthcare Germany
•Mixed cabin class option: fly to Germany in economy class and return in business class, e.g. after a hip replacement
•Free itinerary changes offer patients flexibility in case of changes in their medical condition
•Hassle-free medical trip planning due to combined medical and travel expertise of Lufthansa and Premier Healthcare Germany
•An opportunity to earn miles in Lufthansa’s award-winning Miles and More frequent flyer program

“This cooperation is easy for Lufthansa to implement and it means so much for us, an emerging company that strives to make medical treatment in Germany accessible for everyone,” said Olaf Haase, Director of Clinical Affairs and one of the founders of Premier Healthcare Germany. “Being mobile and having easy access to Germany is the fundamental key to any medical travel. With this cooperation, we can offer transportation that goes far beyond the simple booking of a seat.”

Lufthansa offers wheel chair service, to complete intensive care units onboard its aircraft,  and has become a leading provider in medical mobility.”

As Premier says, “Medical travel needs to be well planned and organized. It is for this reason that patients sometimes shy away from it. The task of travelling to another country for treatment often seems daunting. This is often due to the logistic efforts involved. Only the very few Internet savvy and travel experienced individuals find it easy to plan and execute a medical trip. For others, it can be a project with unpredictable complexity.

Having been treated in Germany for side effects from hormonal cancer drugs, I would go back tomorrow – especially as massage is very much a part of German healthcare.  But be warened – therapists usually stay in the room when you undress, and find it very funny that British men always keep their socks on – even though the are naked!

I found the doctors extremely efficient, although unlikely to provide the personal information on their website that we might access for British healthcare professionals.  When I queried this, I found out their Health Ministry keeps a much more rigorous eye on qualifications, etc. so Germans aren’t so obsessed with looking up their doctor’s qualifications on the web.  However, Premier Healthcare does have information on its website about many of its top surgeons, which must have been prepared for us Britons!

More information: www.premier-healthcare.eu

Olaf Haase

Director of Marketing and Clinical Affairs
Member of the Board
Phone: +49 163 286 9344
Mail: Olaf@premier-healthcare.eu
or
Michael G. Meurs
Director Business Development
Member of the Board
Phone: +31 651 26 9282
Mail: michael@premier-healthcare.eu

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Treatment in France

Map of France (wp-EN), with names in French
Image via Wikipedia

TREATMENT CENTRES IN FRANCE

www.fnclcc.fr is the website for the Federation Nationale des Centres de Lutte contre le Cancer.   It incorporates a page in English which details the work of the Federation and names the 20 cancer centres.
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Frances Wilkinson, Secretary of Cancer Support France, says they “will always support English-speaking people affected by cancer in France and you will have seen from the CSF website that we have branches of our organisation in many parts of France where there is a significant population of Anglophones.
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Incidentally, although I do speak French, and so do the people I mention in the case study below, a large proportion of French medical staff speak excellent English.  One darling doctor just grunted as he examined my skin lesions from Tamoxifen – and kept on grunting.  So no interpreter needed there, but he set in motion the treatment I had which cured my skin lesions;  lesions that had stumped doctors at the Royal Marsden in London.
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CASE STUDY : Medicine and treatment in France

You may decide to hxxll with trying to get the NHS top pay – you are going anyway and will pay.

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”.

Warning! The French, like us, are getting fed up with medical tourism.  But they have the will to do something about this, so don’t imagine you can go there and present yourself at a hospital, claiming to have suddenly got cancer – it won’t work.

You will be treated well, then presented with a bill at the end – and there won’t be any way you can get out of paying.

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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”.

LIVING IN FRANCE – GETTING TREATMENT FOR VISITING RELATIVES

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
Newcastle
NE98 1BA”

TRANSPORT FOR DISABLED PASSENGERS

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.

www.eurostar.co.uk

www.raileurope.co.uk