Access to NHS treatment in the UK for British retirees, update

As from the 6th April all ex-pat UK retireeliving in France are allowed to use the NHS without prior agreement from the French authorities.

However, when I have asked the Overseas Health Team for help on how to access this, there has been no definitive information forthcoming.

Initially, I was given wrong information and then the excuse that they had been in purdah because of the election.

It is obvious that very little work had been done before this announcement was made and, yet again, we ex-pat retirees have been short changed by the UK government.

I will keep you informed on any progress and publish the information I receive from the DoH in London.

Found a more recent mug shot...... I will change it if it frightens anyone or the horses.....

Hi Doreen - I just put 'david john spokes, mauprevoir' in Google and the first result was from '' giving my Mauprevoir address and listing me as a director of a UK company, Beach Volleyball UK Ltd which is correct

If you go to and ask for 'david spokes, mauprevoir', the first listing is a pdf

COMPTE-RENDU ASSEMBLEE GENERALE DU 22Janvier listing me as a committee member of our local Franco Brittanique organisation.

We have lived here five years and are both retired. I have been involved with our local elections helping our new mayor with his marketing and for what it's worth, I an taking flying lessons at Limoges, the only English flying school in France. My wife been unfortunate to be diagnosed with cancer shortly after coming here and has had had several other medical issues include one major op, so we have a lot of experience of doctors, consultants, heart and back specialists and the excellent service provided by Centre hospitalier universitaire de Poitiers

Also, thanks to the good work and support of Brian Cave, I have been trying to resolve the Winter Fuel Payment saga for expats in our region and I am trying to motivate action regarding votes for people who have been here more than 15 years, and the right to vote in the EU referendum.

Hope that puts our mind at rest....

Hi Jane - I have not posted a photo yet because the only decent one I have is almost 20 years old - despite the fact that I was a professional photographer for years and even owned a press agency before I moved into PR and marketing! My wife still complains that despite being a professional, our family pics are in several boxes rather than in albums.......

But if it helps, I will add it. I was born in 1946, have lived here for five years and I am in the French system.I also help run and expat self help group - - where I am membership secretary and look after the web site, marketing and events.

Regarding the EHIC cards, I thought I needed one when visiting UK 'just in case', so I applied and was sent one with a covering letter saying that it was not valid in UK anyway. I did post earlier a statement copied from the EHIC web site which states very clearly that the UK issued card is for other countries and is not valid in UK. The web site does not make any distinction between pensioners and non-pensioners in this context.

From my experience whilst in UK this year, if your are retired you can get treatment without one - or any other documents. But it my well be that the local trust in Dorset is bit more efficient.

The NHS has suffered from appalling management and planning for years and nothing seems to have changed. From the reply to Jane's letter, it seems the 'postcode lottery' even extends to retired expats with the service offered to us down to individual trusts - and we know how efficient some of them are.

Our expat friend with Non Hodgkin B lymphoma was given a max 7 years to live. Thanks to his treatment here, he is still alive and kicking over 15 years later. He lives on his own here and was planning a move back to UK to be with family, but was informed that he would not be able to continue the treatment in UK because 'it is not cost effective' for his age.

Not only that, the NHS would not accept the French diagnosis and analysis, so in UK, he would have to go back to square one and start diagnosis and tests all over again - in the knowledge that he would be likely to be denied the treatment that is working anyway.

I can understand why some expats would prefer to be treated in UK but personally, I would not go near the NHS when the French system is so much better.

(By the way, regarding problems with French dentists, I lost part of a tooth the other day. My wife left a phone message for an appointment but no response, so although the dentist is shut on Wednesdays, I called in yesterday and bumped into him. He told me to call today, but called me instead at 9 this morning with an appointment for 11am. Tooth now fixed!)

Dave, when we first came to France we had an EHIC issued by the French health authority. We were then advised by Newcastle that the regulations had changed and our EHIC would from now on be issued by the UK authorities.
Because we were within the French health system we needed the EHIC issued by the UK authorities to prove our right to use the NHS for emergency treatment.
There was a post about this earlier on by Brian Cave I think. It reminded us that many of the EHIC’s issued to UK retirees were about to run out of date.
We rang the number provided and spoke to someone who was very helpful and our cards arrivedthe day before we left for UK.
It has occurred to me Dave, that as we cannot see your photo, you may not be a British retiree in receipt of a UK state pension.
This would the answer to your question and you should use an EHIC from the French authorities. The UK does not provide health provision for those who have chosen to leave the UK before retirement age.

Having written to my MP and going to the National Press has elicited the following response from Rebecca Sinclair, Policy Manager- EU & International Cross-border Healthcare Policy at the Department of Health:

Dear Mrs Williamson,

My colleague Natasha has been out of the office but has made me aware of the email below sent to her yesterday.

With regard to your query about the process for returning to receive treatment on the NHS under the new rules from 6 April, this will be determined at individual Trust level. Therefore, if you wish to make use of the new rights available to you from 6 April, you will need to speak to the NHS provider where you wish to receive treatment about the process they have in place.

The reason you will need to speak to the NHS provider is that, for example, they may require a referral from an England-based GP, but again, this will be determined at provider level. You will also need to show a copy of your S1 or ask the healthcare provider to contact the DWP Overseas Healthcare Team to verify the status of your S1.

Information reflecting this advice will be made publically available as soon as possible.

I appreciate this may not be as detailed as you would have hoped, however, I am sure you will appreciate I cannot pre-empt the advice given to you by the relevant NHS provider.

Kind regards,


As you can see this raises as many questions as it answers. Will these Trusts be allowed to refuse us treatment, will we be fobbed off because we are at arm's length?

Will sick British retirees have to go from Trust to Trust or GP to GP to find someone willing to take them on?

Nothing is said with regard to opticians and eye tests etc. Will we be allowed to claim back what has already been paid because the means for implementing this policy has not been in place?

As you can see from the above e-mail, access to pre-planned NHS treatment for British retirees depends upon possession of the form S1, which allows us to claim healthcare from the EU state in which we reside.

EHIC cards will guarantee access to emergency treatment.

I will reply to Rebecca and raise these questions, because we need to have a policy which guarantees us access to NHS treatment and which is not dependent upon the whim of Finance and Accounting Managers at individual National Health Trusts.

Watch this space!

And we think French bureaucracy is a mess!!

We know that from April 6th 2015 one can use the NHS as a pensioner resident in other States of the EU.

Jane is trying to establish the protocol as to how one can do this. On this, the bureaucracy of the UK seems not to have established any procedure - Jane, Is this not the correct position we face?

The EHIC is (they say) for use in any EU State other than that where you reside. Since that situation relates to UK pensioners residing in France visiting the UK it does seem logical that the presentation of the EHIC in the UK is the way to prove that one has the right to the use of the NHS.

But do the GPs and hospitals in the UK know that? It also crosses my mind as an additional complication that when someone from England visits a GP in Wales or Scotland what happens? These countries have devolved NHS systems. Further, what circumstances arise if one is a UK pensioner visiting from some other part of the world - New Zealand for example?

What a lovely mess it all is - That is another reason why we need MP representation at Westminster! We could write to our MP - if we had one - and try to get it sorted.

For us resident in the EU an answer is so simple - the Dept. of Health needs to send a note to all NHS outlets (I would suppose via each County health dept.- i. e. to Kent - Cumbria etc and the devolved UK countries) telling them to recognise the EHIC when presented as evidence of the right of the owner to enjoy the NHS services as for any resident pensioner.

Jane and Doreen - this from the EHIC web link Doreen posted:.....

I live overseas and have a valid EHIC issued from the UK. Can I use my card for treatment if I visit the UK?

An EHIC issued from the UK is not valid for treatment within the UK and it is not in our remit to advise what help you may be entitled to.

The Department for Work and Pensions Overseas Healthcare Team (DWP OHT) should be able to advise if you are entitled to NHS treatment through your UK issued EHIC card, alternatively you can contact a local GP or Hospital for advice on what help you may be entitled to as an overseas visitor.

You can contact the DWP OHT on:

0191 218 1999 (option 1) if you are calling from the UK.

0044 191 218 1999 (option 1) if you are calling form outside of the UK.

Jane - you're not half as confused as me!

My understanding is that there is only one UK EHIC card and it is for UK residents. If you live here and want one for possible use in UK, you must get the equivalent issued by France.

These things are not helped by the ambiguous wording used by the authorities in UK. It's easy to find answers to EHIC residency questions if you are British traveling abroad, but an inquiry about UK citizens living in France wanting one draws a blank!

Dave, this totally confusing.
It seems to me that they have issued you with an EHIC card for UK residents, not residents in France.

Jane - this is copied from the NHS web site.....

'An EHIC will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK.'

I think the department issuing these is as confused as I am. I told them I was visiting UK and they wrote to me telling saying I should therefore re-new the card. When it arrived, the covering letter said it was not valid in UK - only other EU countries. I presume this is because being retired, I can get treatment in UK anyway...... We did not have show show an EHIC for my wife's treatment there.

Jane - according to the letter from Newcastle, the EHIC card does not work in UK and is not required when visiting there. It is for expats visiting other EU countries other than that where they live.

Dave, I cannot understand this, as it is not true. We need to use our EHIC to access emergency treatment within the UK. The EHIC is not valid for pre-planned NHS treatment.

Jane - I did - in fact, they contacted me in the first place!

Dave, that is because you need to apply to Newcastle for your EHIC!!

The Regulations have changed.

Jane - I had a letter saying my EHIC had expired and I should apply for a new one. I sent off for a new one, but when it came, the covering letter said it was not valid for treatment in the UK!

Dave, if you have an EHIC then you are entitled to non-planned treatment.
If you are retirees within the French health system were are deemed to have left the UK system.
You were lucky, but illegal, when you were seen by a GP in UK. These new regulations are designed to prevent health tourism, don’t forget it is the UK which already pays for our health cover here in France. There is a general totti g up system at the end of each annual period.
It is quite obvious to me that you, like myself before I was discriminated against by the French health system, do not understand the European Bealth Regulations with regard to cross border healthcare.
There are always those with differing experience and those who work outside the regulations, but now we should have the choice, if we keep on at the politicians and civil servants.

I am a pensioner but obviously I was misinformed by my UK GP when she told me 2 weeks ago I would not be entitled to free NHS care if I came back to the UK for treatment as I am permanently resident in France, and if I did return to UK to live I would have to wait months to qualify.