Health Services: EU Nationals

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Duchy of Lancaster)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps Spanish and Portuguese citizens visiting the UK after the 31 October 2019 or residing in the UK but without Settled Status will have to take to prove that they are entitled to free healthcare under the bilateral agreements on healthcare rights for EU citizens in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Government has made clear in a ‘no deal’ scenario, the rights of European Union citizens, including Spanish and Portuguese citizens, in the United Kingdom on exit day will be protected. This includes being able to access National Health Service care without charge on the basis that they are ordinarily resident in the UK, and the NHS will apply the same eligibility tests as it does now. It should be noted that EU citizens already living in the UK on exit day have up until 31 December 2020 to apply for Settled Status, but their access to healthcare will remain the same regardless of whether they apply for Settled Status before then.

The Government has proposed to all EU Member States that when we leave, we should maintain the existing healthcare arrangements including the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) Scheme until 31 December 2020, with the aim of minimising disruption to healthcare provision for UK nationals and EU citizens. This is subject to agreement by individual EU Member States.

For those Spanish and Portuguese citizens visiting the UK after exit day, if agreed under bilateral agreements with Spain and Portugal, visitors will be able to use their EHIC as they do now. Should individual countries not agree to continue reciprocal healthcare, then access to healthcare cover for visitors from those countries may change.

Visitors from Spain or Portugal to the UK whose visit begins before and continues over exit day will still be able to use their EHIC during that visit, should they fall ill or have a medical emergency.

We welcome action from EU Member States such as Spain and Portugal who have prepared their own legislation for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

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