Citizens rights using thier EHIC card

Dear all, 
Early March 2008 many newspapers released an article about citizens rights when using their EHIC card when travelling from the U.K. or when visiting the U.K. The instructions issued via our consular Services came direct from our Health Department in the U.K. where they issued a very incomplete press release announcing that all citizens visiting the U.K. must produce a E.H.I.C. and that they would impose a 3 month restriction on the use of the E.H.I.C full stop. Further, that it was now necessary to produce an E.H.I.C.
when visiting the U.K. as a Union citizen or member of an EEA State. We did not quarrel over the need to produce an E.H.I.C. However, we did quarrel over certain mistakes in the statement in the press release in more general terms, which were not picked up, as they should have been, by our FCO in Madrid.
This caused me to write on behalf of our Association to the Department of Health in the U.K., since the advice was not only incomplete, it was inaccurate.
You may read below the questions I asked, having proper regard to 'The Guidance for NHS hospitals in England'. We refer to the pdf file in the attachment as "NHS rights for pensioners" This is a 77 page report, which I have studied." This guide, with a 'forward by John Hutton when Secretary of State for Health, introduce measures to combat health tourism, as it has become to be known.
(1) First, let me make one thing clear and that is under the current rules one is considered an overseas visitor to the U.K. where one has been absent for more than three months, then you are out of the NHS system and have to justify yourself when you return, that you have again taken up residence.
This does not apply to State pensioners. However like many rules there must be derogations and there are a number set out in the 'Guide'. as follows: -
(2) The 3 month limit of absence is extended to no more than 6 months for State pensioners in any one year. There are derogations which include servicemen and many others, but those most likely to effect visitors travelling from the U.K. extend to pregnant ladies, where they may not be able to meet the deadline or those who become ill for whatever reason and are unfit to travel to their home state.
(3) The rules impose a cumulative formula where the 3 month limit in any one year for active citizens and expressly states in the attached 'Guide, which the Department have now confirmed to us as being the current regulations, expressly state that 3 separate periods amount to the 3 months allowance in any one year.
(4) In respect of (3) above, we challenge this cumulative 3 month 'criteria'
ruling, since it is not based upon any Community Law and has bee unilaterally imposed. In fact there are no set periods laid down by the Community, other than the reciprocal health care the E.H.I.C. affords is intended for short period of absences. However, there is also no settled case law in this matter.  Indeed, we have sought a 2nd opinion from E.U.
Lawyers and their view is that any single period of absence would be considered reasonable, where it did not exceed 3 months, of course with the medical derogations to which we refer. We will therefore take up this matter of cumulative periods being imposed  with the Commission in due course.
Since it is the Community which makes the rules and not individual Member States.
(5) Further the attached 'Guide' at its page 26 refers to all 'immediately'
necessary treatment. This expression is now obsolete and the 'guide' should have been amended to read 'all necessary treatment' vide E.U. Regulation 631/04, which amended Regulations 1408/71. The letter for the Head of Unit for the Commission of Employment an Social Affairs, dated 26 August 2006 can be viewed in its entirety on our website, under the 'Latest New' page for the relevant period in time.
(6) In the proper legal context of all necessary treatment, we should hope that nobody is given unnecessary treatment. Further any treatment cannot be delayed purely upon the basis that treatment could be delayed until the citizen returned to his State of residence.
(7) We trust that this information will put the minds of our State pensioners at ease and allow them to relax in their retirement.
Apart from informing the press, this information will also be forwarded to our Consul at Alicante with a request that she disseminate this information throughout the Consular Services in Spain, for the Guidance and assistance.

My kind regards, David R.Burrage. Legal advisor and co-founder of the British Expatriates Association (Spain) & (France)

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