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I have a friend, recently retired who lives in the UK but spends each summer here in her home in the Poitou-Charentes. She has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and will shortly begin either Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy treatment in the UK. Can anyone please give me any information relating to her being able to continue that treatment here during July, August and September,, and whether the costs involved could / would be met by the National Health Service, (?E111), or must be funded by herself?

Lastly, can anyone tell me the nearest Radiotherapy / Chemotherapy treatment centre to Civray or Ruffec?

Very many thanks. P.T.


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From what you write about your friend, I do not believe that on-going treatment costs can be met via the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card which has replaced the E111), as it is meant to be used for emergency health care.

Apart from the cost aspect,  and assuming your friend's consultant accepts to start a chemo or radiotherapy treatment he is she will not be able to control, the main obstacle is going to be finding a French consultant who will be happy to prescribe a treatment protocol he or she will not have any say in, with little or no background knowledge of the original condition.

Your friend should speak to her consultant in the first instance.

As an aside ( feel free to ignore this), chemotherapy is extremely draining physically and needs to be monitored between sessions.

I would question the wisdom of undergoing such a treatment away from those who have prescribed it with full knowledge of the medical condition requiring it.
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I really think in the first instance your friend should be discussing this with her oncologist. For example radiotherapy may involve treatment every day or alternate days for a number of weeks, a trip to France might therefore not fit into such a plan whereas chemotherapy may be given in cycles enabling holidays to be taken. There are so many variables - has surgery been undertaken - is surgery planned - what chemotherapy drugs etc etc. So I suggest  a treatment plan should  be formulated with the oncologist and then the possibilities of coming to France can be addressed to ensure that your friend is going to receive the best available treatment.

As for the E 111, I think that is now the  EHIC but someone else I am sure will know about what your friend may or may not be able to claim

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Sorry, I disagree with some of what Clair says.

The EHIC is rather more comprehensive than the old E111 - here is the official text (my bold section)

The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.

The EHIC also covers any treatment you need for a chronic disease or pre-existing illness. You need to make arrangements in advance for kidney dialysis and oxygen therapy. To arrange for kidney dialysis while you're away, contact your NHS renal unit in the UK before you travel. For limited information on oxygen supply services in the EEA countries and Switzerland, call the Department of Health's Customer Service Centre on 020 7210 4850.

You may be entitled to reimbursement of any contribution you have made where the actual cost of your hospital treatment abroad, minus the amount of the contribution you have made towards the cost of your treatment abroad, is less than what it would have cost the NHS to have provided the hospital treatment in the UK.  Reimbursement will be limited to the difference between the amount it would have cost the NHS to treat you here and the actual cost of the medical treatment you have received abroad, minus the contribution you have made towards the cost of your treatment abroad.  You are not entitled to be reimbursed an amount greater than the contribution you made and you might not recoup all of it.

You are advised to take out comprehensive private travel insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC.  Private travel insurance will cover any contribution which is not reimbursable, as well as other eventualities not covered by the EHIC.

Remember that the EHIC won't cover you if getting medical treatment is the main purpose of your trip.

See here .

I do agree that the implications of taking such a course of treatment away from home need to be fully discussed with the doctors. And note that the above applies only to EHIC, the French equivalent (CEAM) is not quite the same, at least in terms of validity, although its application should be equivalent.

There is an EHIC help line in Britain, on 0871 434 9071, but note that this is provided by an organisation that is independent from the NHS.


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I have cancer and have undergone chemo recently.   I was desperate to get to France!   In the end I got to know the pattern of my body and its reaction to the chemo and I was able to fit in a trip between sessions.  


I know that I would not have wanted to change regimes in the middle and would not really have wanted to change the country in which I was having the treatment.




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Will, Doesn't your post kind of beg the question about the meaning of 'chronic condition' in this context ? Is it going to count as a pre - existing illness. If this is the case why can't all cancer patients get their treatment in France ? ( I'm sure some would prefer it)

....And before we start discussing it, it doesn't matter what we think does it ?All that counts is what is allowed under the scheme. I think a call by the OP(or their friend) to the relevant authorities might be the best course of action.

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