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DHSS announces changes to health agreement with United Kingdom 3 October 2008

The Department of Health and Social Security today announced that the United Kingdom, as part of an overall review of the health agreements it has with other nations, has indicated its intention to end the Bilateral Agreement (often referred to as the Reciprocal Agreement) it has with the Isle of Man. It has already given formal notice terminating the agreement with the Channel Islands.

It must be strongly emphasised that this will not affect the major element of the Isle of Man’s relationship with the UK – the referral of patients to the UK for treatment, which is fully funded by the Isle of Man Government at a cost of approximately £6M per year.

There will be an effect on financial arrangements covering emergency or immediately necessary treatment provided to UK residents by the Isle of Man Health Service and to Isle of Man residents by the UK National Health Service. Currently, emergency or immediately necessary treatment provided to UK residents by the Isle of Man Health Service is paid for by the UK Government (currently approximately £2M a year). When the Agreement ends, the UK government will no longer pay for this.

Whilst the details are yet to be finalised, it is also likely that the ending of the Agreement will affect those Manx residents who require free emergency or immediately necessary treatment whilst visiting the UK. Whilst their initial treatment will remain free, any resultant admission to hospital for inpatient treatment or surgery will have to be paid for by the patient.

Similarly, UK residents visiting the Isle of Man will receive free initial emergency or immediately necessary treatment, but will be required to pay if they are admitted to hospital.

No date for the termination of the Agreement has yet been agreed, but it is unlikely to be before 2010. It is clear, however, that this will, in due course, have a significant impact on the already stretched Isle of Man Health budget and over the next few weeks and months, the DHSS will be considering how to ensure that there is no adverse effect on the services provided.

It is also clear that the existing DHSS advice to those travelling off island remains extremely important. The advice is that those travelling off the Isle of Man, even if only to the UK, should have travel insurance, which covers emergency health needs, most importantly including repatriation to the Isle of Man if necessary.

Eddie Teare MHK, Minister for Health and Social Security said,

“This is another major challenge for the Isle of Man. I am greatly reassured, however, that the most important element of our relationship with the UK – referrals to the UK NHS for treatment we cannot provide on the Isle of Man – is unaffected by the UK’s decision. It also shows how important the work already undertaken has been to ensure the Manx taxpayer receives a cost-effective health service.”

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