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UK ends health agreement with Island

The United Kingdom has decided to end its bilateral health agreement, often called the 'reciprocal agreement' with the Isle of Man.

It is proposed to halt the long-running arrangement which covers what is termed 'emergency or immediately necessary treatment'.

Health Minister Eddie Teare explained the implications to Manx Radio: "The issue here, the kernel of the problem, is it's emergency treatment.

"If somebody goes to the UK, they trip and fall, hurt their knee and attend the accident and emergency unit of a hospital, they would be treated at the accident and emergency unit, but if they wanted to be admitted into the hospital itself, then there would be a charge incurred."

The UK decision means the cost of further treatment in the UK, and sending people back to the Isle of Man in some cases, will have to be borne either by the Manx patient or by insurance cover.

There will be a similar change in arrangements for resident of the United Kingdom who require hospital treatment while in the Isle of Man.

No date has been set for the termination of the agreement, but the DHSS says it is unlikely to be before 2010.

The Manx Government says it's current advice to people travelling off the Isle of Man, even to the United Kingdom, remains extremely important. It says evrybody should have travel insurance, covering emergency health needs and including repatriation to the Isle of Man, if necessary.

It's being stressed the major element of the Isle of Man's health care relationship with the UK will not be affected.

Isle of Man patients will continue to be referred to the UK for treatment, under an arrangement which is fully funded by the Isle of Man Government at a cost of approximately £6 million a year.

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