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Overseas Treatment

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients have been treated in continental Europe so far this year; what the treatment was for; and at what cost. [114723]

To date, a total of 209 patients have been treated abroad in 2003 as part of the overseas treatment and cardiac choice programmes. Of these, 207 patients were referred to France for orthopaedic procedures and two patients were referred to Belgium for cardiac procedures.A procurement process identifying spare capacity abroad is currently active, so the costs of specific procedures abroad are commercially sensitive. However, prices are comparable to spot purchasing in the United Kingdom private sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what occasions private planes were chartered to transport NHS patients for treatment in continental European hospitals; and at what cost. [114724]

Since the pilot, 247 patients have been referred abroad as part of the overseas treatment programme. Patients have travelled using a number of different modes of transport, including ambulance, Eurostar and air charter. Air charter is only used where the numbers to be transported make the option cost effective. Air charter has been used on five occasions to transport 122 patients from Plymouth National Health Service Trust and the Royal United Hospital in Bath to hospitals in St. Etienne, France. Spare capacity was made available to the patient's relatives, at no cost to the NHS. The precise costs of the air charter are subject to commercial confidentiality; the cost per patient for the air charter compared well with the cost of the equivalent commercial flights.