UK to send patients to France for surgery

Hospital patients in the south east of England could soon be travelling over the Channel to undergo surgery in northern France as part of a new deal with French authorities. Language will not be an issue says the French hospital in Calais.

UK to send patients to France for surgery
British patients could soon go under the knife in France. Photo: Shutterstock

Brits in the south east of England have for years popped over the English Channel to Calais to stock up on cheap booze and fags, but they could soon be coming to go under the knife.

A deal is being finalized with NHS Kent which would see patients travel to Calais to undergo surgery.

It has come about after the Centre Hospitalier de Calais made a bid to provide services to patients in the county that stands just 33 kilometres across the English Channel.

According to South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the “finer details” of the deal are still being worked out.

Essentially patients who would normally have to wait longer to receive treatment in the UK can travel to France to make the most of spare capacity.

It would involve them paying for their own travel and costs, but then the NHS would cover the cost of the treatment in France.

Hazel Carpenter, from South Kent CCG told the BBC treatment in France would only be an option if patients requested it after a discussion with their doctor.

The prospect of patients Channel hopping for treatment has come about after the health authority in England invited organizations that could provide general surgery, gynaecology, cataract surgery, pain management and orthopaedics to apply.

(It's nearer to Calais from many parts of Kent than it is to London)

Two French providers threw their hat into the ring along with several from the UK.

“We carried out a careful assessment of the services they offer and are visiting sites,” said Carpenter.

“The two French providers, among others, fulfilled our criteria and we expect to finalize a contract with them.”

On the French side of the Channel, hospital chiefs in Calais hope to see the first UK patients make the crossing before Christmas and plan to treat between 300 and 400 NHS patients a year.

Martin Trelcat, general manager of the Calais hospital insisted language would not be a barrier and said language classes are being given to around 70 nurses.

Unions in the UK however have dismissed the scheme as a gimmick and claim it represents an “admission of failure” on the part of the NHS.

Damian Collins, an MP for Folkestone and Hythe in Kent said the idea was sensible, due to France being closer and more accessible than parts of London.

He described the hospital in Calais as fantastic.

SEE ALSO: Five reasons everyone should visit Calais

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France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.