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Channel Islands Reciprocal Health Agreement

18 September 2008

News Release: 18th September 2008

The UK government, on behalf of the Department of Health (DOH), has advised both the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey that it wishes to withdraw from the Reciprocal Health Agreement (RHA).

As yet no formal notice of such a termination has been received by the States of Jersey. Senator Ben Shenton, Minister for Heath and Social Services has written to Minister for Health, Dawn Primarolo, requesting a meeting with her and officers of the DOH in order that discussions can take place as to the best way forward in these circumstances. Senator Shenton is awaiting a reply from the Minister for Health and this is expected once the UK parliament reconvenes.

The RHA governs the means by which Jersey residents receive all health care in the UK. It is unlikely that those patients who are referred to the UK for specialist treatment by a consultant employed by the Health and Social Services Department would be affected by the termination of this agreement. The part of the RHA which concerns the arrangements by which Jersey residents receive emergency care – i.e. who fall ill or are injured while they are in the UK – is likely to be subject to the most change as a result of the UK’s intentions.

For those due to travel to the UK on holiday, or for business, nothing will change for the moment – these matters require discussion at ministerial level between Jersey, Guernsey and the UK.

Whatever changes will be introduced, the UK has made it clear that Jersey residents currently studying in the UK will be treated as UK citizens for the purposes of their health care needs.

The RHA, which was introduced more than forty years ago, governs the arrangements for health care by which UK citizens receive healthcare services in the Channel Islands, and Channel Islanders receive health care services in the UK.

It is our understanding that the Ministry of Health’s desire to withdraw from the Reciprocal Health Agreement does not only affect Jersey, and Guernsey; but that it intends to withdraw from RHAs across the world.

Senator Shenton said: As Minister for Health and Social Services it is my duty to protect the health care interests of Jersey residents and this most certainly includes the health care they require when they fall ill or become injured in the UK. My officers and I will be meeting with the Minister of Health and her advisors to fully understand the proposals and then to work through in detail what the impact of these changes would be for Islanders. I intend to make periodic reports to the States Assembly about this matter so that Islanders are kept informed of developments. We will be working with our counterparts in Guernsey to ensure a consistent Channel Island approach when and where this in the interests of both Bailiwicks.’

Notes to Editors
1. For further information please contact Mike Pollard on Tel: 442285.
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