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EU patients are entitled to primary care in any member country

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 22 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1106
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. Utrecht

    The European Court of Justice has given a landmark ruling that two Dutch patients needed no prior authorisation for “non-hospital” care received in another European Union country.

    It establishes the principle that barriers to providing “non-hospital” services, such as general practice and dentistry, are unjustified. Patients are theoretically free to visit a doctor in any EU country, thus avoiding waiting lists.

    The court also hints at a broader interpretation of non-hospital care that would include all care provided in doctors' surgeries and polyclinics (clinics providing out-patient services). “The distinction between intra- and extramural care is sometimes difficult to make,” it says.

    Dutch surgeons have argued in the press that …

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