The European Commission has unveiled plans to enable European citizens to seek medical treatment abroad
and then bill the NHS.
The European commissioner for health, Markos Kyprianou, revealed that only those treatments available in a patient's home country would be offered, meaning that British patients seeking procedures that are unavailable on the NHS would still need to seek private treatment
, either at home or abroad.
Many patients already travel overseas to seek treatment in order to avoid the waiting lists in UK hospitals; in addition, treatment is frequently cheaper in foreign hospitals, even though patient care is still excellent.
Peter Elphinstone, a dentist from Essex, told the Independent that he had travelled to France
for a hip replacement
operation after an injury sustained 30 years ago suddenly started playing up.
"I didn't want to have to go on a waiting list and sit there in pain for weeks," he revealed, explaining his decision to seek surgery abroad.
"The surgeon was brilliant and talked everything through with me, and the nursing staff were absolutely fantastic," Mr Elphinstone said.
"The surgeon came around to see everyone each night and even though I don't speak French, there were no problems."
Mr Elphinstone told the Independent that he stayed in hospital in France for two weeks before returning home and is now back at work.
"I feel bad because it sounds like I'm doing down the NHS, but the treatment I got was like nothing you would get in a hospital in Britain," he admitted.
"I'm not saying the NHS is terrible, it's just there are places where you can get better treatment."© Adfero Ltd