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Calais hospital managers are offering their services to Kent patients after the EU approves cross-border healthcare

By Angela Cole

French hospital managers are hoping Kent patients will say “oui” to being treated across the Channel.

Centre Hospitalier de Calais is touting for business from the garden of England in the hope that patients will opt to have their operations done in France, after the EU changed its rules on patient rights for cross-border healthcare.

Since October, an EU directive has been part of UK law allowing patients to buy their medical care in any EU member state, if they are entitled to it here.

Patients need approval beforehand for some 144 treatments and then claim the costs back. Some may even be eligible able to have their travel costs met, although they must foot the bill for accommodation.

Center Hospitalier, in Calais
Center Hospitalier, in Calais

The massive Calais hospital has 502 beds, parking for 350 cars, and mostly private, en suite rooms with latest technology for MRI and CT scans. It provides 24-hour cover for a range of specialisms and has recently added plastic and reconstructive surgery and vascular surgery to the list.

It is the latest competition for the local NHS, which in Maidstone now also has the new £80m KIMS private hospital at Bearsted hoping to tempt looking for patients away.

The 15,000 square-metre site, next to Notcutts at Junction 7 of the M20, has 81 inpatient and 20 outpatient beds and. It also boasts has the latest in technology.

Literature for the Centre Hospitalier de Calais said: “The aim of the Centre Hospitalier de Calais is to open its doors to a wider public audience both to residents of the Calais region and also for its European neighbours to benefit from its excellent hospital care.

“To achieve this goal, the site of Virval located south east of Calais, was chosen because it offers easy access from the city centre and the ring road surrounding the city.”

A spokesman for the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust declined to comment, but a representative from the a spokesman for the Department of Health said the EU directive “allows patients to purchase medically necessary healthcare in another Member State to the one they are resident and then claim reimbursement from their home system, up to what it would have cost had the treatment taken place in the patient’s home country. The treatment they are seeking must be one the patient is entitled to in their country of residence."

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