§ Mr. Frank Field
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what information or guidance he has issued during the past two months to NHS trust chairmen on(a) the purchasing of health care from other EU countries and (b) employing staff from other EU countries on short-term contracts; 
- (2) what contracts (a) his Department and (b) NHS (i) trusts and (ii) agencies have signed during the past month with an EU-based supplier of health care offering to treat British patients abroad, giving details in each case; 
- (3) what negotiations he has had during the past two months with suppliers of health care in other EU countries offering to treat patients abroad.
§ Mr. Milburn
holding answer 15 October 2001]: On 12 July the European Court of Justice ruled on joined cases C-157/99 Geraets-Smits and Peerbooms and case C-368/98 Vanbraekel that some hospital services may fall within EC single market rules if they are provided for remuneration.
Following this ruling, the Government announced that National Health Service commissioners will be able to commission care for NHS patients from providers in other member states of the European Union, as part of their wider efforts to reduce waiting times.
NHS chief executives were alerted to the announcement on 30 August through the Chief Executive's Bulletin issued by the Department of Health.1241W
I have not had any negotiations with suppliers of health care in other EU countries offering to treat NHS patients. Officials in the Department have met several organisations which provide or arrange treatment in other member states of the European Union.
The decision to treat NHS patients in mainland Europe will be made locally as part of normal NHS commissioning arrangements. The Department has not signed any contracts and is not aware of any contracts that have been signed by primary care trusts or health authorities. The Department is working closely with NHS managers and clinicians in Portsmouth, East Kent, West Sussex and East Surrey to offer patients the option of going to other European countries for procedures. Lessons learned from these areas on the legal, clinical and quality issues involved in sending NHS patients abroad for treatment will inform guidance, which will be sent out to the service later this year.
The recruitment of staff from the EU is an important part of the Department's recruitment and retention strategy and we are currently undertaking a range of initiatives, including the recruitment of doctors and nurses from Spain and doctors through our global recruitment campaign. A Code of Practice on International Recruitment was launched on 12 October which sets out for the NHS guidelines on the ethical and effective recruitment of staff from abroad.