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Holidays Abroad: Health Services

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support his Department provides for the families of those whose relatives (a) are taken ill and (b) die whilst on holiday abroad. (248394)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: Consular staff in London and around the world can offer advice and support to the families of those whose relatives are either taken ill or die while they are overseas. In the case of illness or injury, with the individuals' permission, we can inform family and friends and keep them up to date with developments. We can also help transfer money from friends or relatives in the UK to meet any necessary costs.

In the event of a death overseas, we ask the UK police to contact the next of kin as soon as possible. Consular staff do their best to ensure that the family's wishes are carried out, for example regarding burial, cremation or bringing the body home. We can put the family in touch with local lawyers and local and international funeral directors. As with hospitalisation, we cannot pay expenses, but we can help transfer money from friends or relatives in the UK.

If the death occurred under suspicious circumstances, we can assist the family in dealing with the local police—and staff are available to meet family representatives in London. When there is an ongoing investigation overseas, we can ask a local UK police force to consider providing a family liaison officer, who advises and helps the family in dealing with the investigation.