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Sports: Health Services

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether responsibility for providing free emergency health cover and hospital accommodation and treatment for (a) participants and (b) spectators at major international sporting events resides with the host country; if he will clarify the position in relation to (i) participants and visitors to the UK attending the London 2012 Olympic Games and (ii) UK residents who attend, as participants and as visitors, the Isle of Man TT Races; and if he will make a statement. (318457)

UK Sport has advised that for the majority of events supported by UK Sport through its World Class Events programme, athletes are required by their international federations to have their own insurance to allow them to compete. International federations will usually incorporate medical cover requirements in the event contract agreements with which host organisers must comply.

The event organisers are liable for public liability insurance cover in case of any accident/injury as a result of the event set up, as opposed to simply injury/accidents as a result of participants competing.

Visitors to events are always covered in terms of emergency first aid as a matter of best practice. This would be free of charge, but organisers of events would not be liable to cover any required hospital treatment.

With regards to participants and visitors to the UK for the Olympic Games in 2012, it was a requirement of the bid that NHS treatment for the Games Family (including participants, IOC and IPC members, technical officials etc.) would be free. The Department of Health is working to fulfil the bid commitment.

For participants, the larger Olympic and Paralympic teams will bring their own specialist medical teams and will provide any medical care required. The vast majority of medical services will be delivered by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games—LOCOG—in the polyclinic in the Olympic Park and in on-site facilities in other Games’ venues. LOCOG is working directly with Hospital Trusts to specify the services and facilities needed in the rare event that a participant is admitted to hospital.

For spectators, business as usual arrangements will apply in line with current legislation—treatment given in an NHS accident and emergency department is free to all persons, but treatment after admission as an in-patient will incur a charge unless the person is entitled to it for free.

Finally, with regards to the TT races on the Isle of Man, the reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and the Isle of Man is still in effect, but terminates on 31 March 2010. Therefore all competitors must be insured against the risk of personal accident in accordance with the FIM Sporting Code.

The Isle of Man Health Service is not part of the UK NHS and, except for immediately necessary and emergency treatment which does not require admission to hospital, visitors to the Isle of Man (including UK residents) who require treatment will be expected to pay for it.

It is therefore strongly recommended that all visitors to the Isle of Man ensure that they have appropriate insurance in place which will cover any treatment costs and repatriation to the UK by air ambulance if that should prove necessary.