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Faced with the prospect of waiting for up to three years for a hip replacement on the NHS, Brian Ashworth took matters into his own hands.
He found a way to have the operation within 30 days — in Lithuania, 1,700 miles from his home in Northern Ireland. And, incredibly, it was paid for by the NHS.
Brian - Bangor - Thousands - Patients - EU
Brian, 56, from Bangor, is among thousands of patients who have used a little-known EU scheme that allowed them to bypass NHS waiting lists by visiting hospitals across Europe.
Yet, with Brexit looming, its future could hang in the balance.
Cross-Border - Healthcare - Directive - Scheme - S2
Under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive, or another scheme called S2, patients deemed suitable for surgery on the NHS can choose to have treatment in any other EU country if it cannot be provided on the NHS within a 'medically justifiable time period'.
Patients who choose the Cross-Border scheme pay for the treatment (up to the amount it would cost on the NHS) and the NHS reimburses them, while on the S2 route the NHS pays the EU hospital directly (S2 covers only state-provided healthcare; the directive scheme covers both state and private treatment).
Travel - Accommodation - Expenses - Patient - Operation
Travel and accommodation expenses have to be covered by the patient, but that can still work out cheaper than a private operation in this country — a private hip replacement costs around £10,000, whereas a return flight within the EU can be a few hundred pounds.
Around 4,000 patients took advantage of these schemes last year, at a cost to the NHS of more than £10 million.
Number - People - S2 - Route - Cent
The number of people using the S2 route rose by 5 per cent a year between 2012 and 2018.
'This year, as uncertainty about Brexit's aftermath increases, unusually big numbers of British patients are inquiring about knee or hip replacements,' says Professor Sarunas Tarasevicius, an orthopaedic surgeon at the...
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