Droves of returning Brit expats may be barred from NHS services

Droves of returning Brit expats may be barred from NHS services

Droves of returning Brit expats may be barred from NHS services

British expats repatriating to the UK are likely to be refused access to the NHS until they’ve lived in the home country for a full six months.

For elderly Brit expats with potentially life-threatening conditions or those who are on cancer or heart medications, the delay could prove fatal. According to Jean McHale, a professor of healthcare law, the test of ‘ordinary residence’ may prevent those expats who’ve stayed long-term in Europe from being eligible for NHS treatment for at least six months after their arrival.

The risk of many thousands of retired expat Britons arriving from EU member states as they could no longer access healthcare and finding they had no immediate right to be treated on the NHS is real, and is the result of appallingly poor planning and a lack of compassion on the part of lawmakers. No-deal is the worst possible outcome, and it’s all about people and their lives as well as their livelihoods. British expats moved overseas in good faith, protected by the promise their chosen countries would provide for their needs, and the so-called transitional arrangements either haven’t yet been made or aren’t possible.

The immediate problem is that, even although it’s very unlikely Brits will be summarily thrown out of their chosen EU countries of residence on March 30th, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the healthcare issue. In France, the retention of healthcare rights is dependent on individuals’ basic rights of legal residency, with discussions to date dodging the potential human tragedy on the doorstep. Also under discussion is the cost of private health insurance and its relevance for British expat retirees on the UK state pension.

For tourists heading for France, the cost of a week’s private health insurance for a 70-year old comes out at upwards of £800, a hard hit for second home owners wishing to visit their properties and a precursor of an unaffordable burden for older expats, especially those with pre-existing conditions. A reciprocal deal with France which covers EU expats and Britons alike is tricky, as the majority of French nationals in the UK are young people, versus UK expats in France who are likely to be far older and make more use of healthcare facilities as a result.

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