May 16th, 2006

EU judgement on hospital reimbursement goes way too far

The European Court of justice has just found that the NHS must fund treatment on the continent if the NHS waiting time is deemd too long. The ruling on case of Yvonne Watts (see BBC) effectively creates a single European health service with open ended obligations and removal of one of the very necessary approaches to rationing health care.

Where do these entitlements actually come from? Unspoken in this is that hospital treatment is a call on the taxpayer that funds the NHS, who has right to insist on limits to his or her liability in respect of other people’s illnesses. This helps to make that liability open-ended. I don’t think ECJ judges should be determining the social contract implicit in the NHS in this way.

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