Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Health agreement with UK to end next month

ISLANDERS who fall ill or have accidents in the UK will soon have to pay for their treatment, Health announced today following confirmation that the UK is scrapping the reciprocal health agreement from 1 April.

Health Minister Jim Perchard was notified of the decision by Dawn Primarolo, the UK’s Minister of State for the Department of Health on Friday. Not only does the ruling open the possibility that Islanders will be left with huge bills for medical care if they do not have adequate travel insurance, it also leaves Health significantly out of pocket.

The JEP has learned that the agreement was extremely profitable for Jersey and will leave Health with a £3.9-million hole in its budget. Health’s finance director, Russell Pearson, has already warned that that could mean Jersey patients suffer. ‘Health and Social Services cannot afford to take a reduction of £3.9 million,’ he said. ‘We would have to prioritise and reduce services to manage that. The Council of Ministers are aware of that impact.’ As of 1 April, Islanders visiting the UK will only be eligible for free treatment in accident and emergency departments.

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