Embargo: Immediate Wednesday 28 February 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords European Union Committee have today welcomed the EU's plan to seek greater clarity in the arrangements for cross border provision of health services.

The Committee's report, Cross Border Health Services in the European Union, is published following an evidence session with Health Services Minister Rosie Winterton MP held on 25 January.

In her evidence Ms Winterton set out the Government's position on the EU Commission's proposals. She made it clear that the Government supported the Commission's attempt to provide greater certainty about patients' entitlements to seek treatment abroad and to clarify who is responsible for covering the costs of such treatment.

Ms Winterton stated that the one of the key principles underlying the discussions is that the Government must retain the right to manage the health services in this country. She explained that the Government's position is that an NHS clinician should have the final say on whether a patient can seek treatment abroad, and that such decisions would need to take into account the cost implications for the NHS. She also argued that the UK should maintain the right to limit the cost of treatment abroad to no more than if the treatment were delivered in the UK.

Commenting, Baroness Thomas of Walliswood, who chaired the Committee publishing the report, said:

"Our discussion with Rosie Winterton was very useful. We agree that there is need to get the framework for European Health Services right so that it can provide a fair and transparent system for people seeking health care and, at the same time, ensure that it does not undermine the UK health service."

Notes to Editors

1. The report is published by The Stationery Office, Cross Border Health Services in the European Union, House of Lords European Union Committee (Sub-Committee on Social Policy and Consumer Affairs), 8th Report of 2006/07, HL Paper 48.

2. The report will be available online shortly after publication at:

3. The members of the Committee who conducted the inquiry are:

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood (Chair)

Earl of Dundee

Baroness Gale

Baroness Greengross

Baroness Howarth of Breckland

Baroness Morgan of Huyton

Lord Moser

Baroness Neuberger

Lord Trefgarne

Baroness Uddin

Lord Wade of Chorlton

For copies of the report, please contact Owen Williams, Committee Press Officer, on 0207 219 8659.