Patients could be given choice of French hospital
French hospitals on course to secure contracts for treatment
Kent patients needing medical treatment could be sent to Calais under new plans to treat them in France.
Two French hospitals are on the verge of securing contracts from South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group.
If successful, Centre Hospitalier de Calais and Fondation Hospitale will be able to provide treatments including general surgery, gynaecology, cataract surgery, pain management and orthopaedics to patients travelling from Kent.
Patients could be referred to either hospital following discussion with their GP, potentially shortening waiting times for some procedures.
But although the treatments will be paid for by the NHS, patients will have to cover their travel costs if they opt for France.
Accountable officer for NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group, Hazel Carpenter, said: “We recently invited organisations that provide treatments... two French providers applied as well as a number of English ones.
“We carried out a careful assessment of the services they offer and are visiting the sites.
“The two French providers, among others, fulfilled our criteria and we expect to finalise a contract with them.
“It will then be possible for patients who need this treatment to choose to have it in France if they wish, after discussion with their GPs. The NHS will pay for their medical treatment but patients will pay their own travel and other incidental costs.
“It is purely a matter of choice and we will be very interested to see how many people take it up and what feedback they give us.”
The CCG insists there is nothing wrong with local providers, and said the French hospitals simply met the criteria.
In a statement, a spokesman said: “It is quite simply a procurement that follows EU competition rules and has the advantage of giving local people a choice.”
Patients requiring surgery are among those who could be treated in France
Damian Collins, Folkestone and Hythe MP, has reacted positively to the move, saying it would provide “extra capacity”.
He said: “It is open for people if they want it and in the short term it would give extra capacity to hospitals in Kent.”
It is unclear where this leaves local providers who missed out on the contracts.
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MP Damian Collins has said the Centre Hospitalier de Calais and Fondation Hospitale could provide extra capacity to the hospitals in Kent