§ 33. Mr. Prosser
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress he is making on the provision of treatment for NHS patients overseas. 
§ Mr. Hutton
Subject to contract, East Kent health authority plan to send 18 patients to France for treatment before the end of January and up to 80 in total by the end of March. West Sussex/East Surrey and Portsmouth HAs748W are largely concentrating on potential German providers; subject to agreements on contracts they will send a number of patients to Germany in February and March. In total it is hoped that around 200 or more patients will travel to France and Germany for treatment during the pilot period. Initial guidance to the national health service will be published shortly.
§ Mr. Laws
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people from(a) East Kent, (b) Portsmouth, (c) West Sussex/East Surrey and (d) other areas of England were sent to other European countries for health treatment between (i) 1 January and 31 December 2001 and (ii) 1 January and 30 January 2002; if he will make a statement on the comparative costs of such treatments compared with the NHS in England, taking into account travel costs; and if he will make a statement on the conclusions of the three test-bed pilot schemes for overseas treatments. 
§ Mr. Hutton
No patients from East Kent, Portsmouth or West Sussex/East Surrey were sent to other European countries for treatment in 2001. Subject to contract, East Kent plan to send 18 patients to France for treatment before the end of January. Portsmouth plan to send one patient to France during the same period. West Sussex/East Surrey will commence sending patients overseas in February. Portsmouth will send further patients overseas in February and March.
Direct comparisons of the costs of overseas treatment and national health service costs are not straightforward; for example, prices so far for hip and knee replacements include intensive rehabilitation which would not be included in standard NHS reference costs. In general the prices agreed so far for treatment overseas are in excess of NHS average reference costs but comparable to those in the United Kingdom private sector. However, we would expect better prices if and when we commit to larger volumes of patients travelling overseas to individual hospitals.
The test bed exercise continues until the end of the financial year. It is therefore too early to draw any firm conclusions.