A French hospital is offering “fast care” to NHS patients who have had planned operations or treatment cancelled in the UK because of surging winter demand.
The Centre Hospitalier in Calais said it can see patients within four weeks and can handle a range of elective surgical procedures.
The offer is part of a 2016 partnership deal with NHS chiefs from South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group, which allows patients to book treatment in selected French hospitals in the same way they would choose a UK hospital.
NHS hospital trusts were told to cancel all non-urgent care, including around 55,000 elective operations, until at least February to ensure capacity is available at A&E departments and for seeing patients whose conditions may deteriorate – such as those suffering from cancer.
A flyer from Caliais centre, sent out this week, said: “At a time when planned surgeries are cancelled in all NHS hospitals, Calais Hospital is in capacity to offer fast care to any NHS patient”.
It adds that, because of the deal, the NHS can offer UK patients care in less than four weeks with “no extended delay to be expected during winter time”.
It comes after Theresa May said that the potential cancellation of 55,000 operations, because of the recommendations of the NHS National Emergency Preparedness Panel, was “part of the plan” for winter.
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The deal was struck between the hospital and the NHS in a bid to reduce escalating waiting times
Treatment costs are still covered by the NHS, and patients must make the hour journey across The Channel, but the hospital is just a five minute walk from the Calais Port and Eurostar Terminal.
Patients awaiting hip operations are among those likely to be cancelled by the postponement of elective surgery, but the Calais Centre has an orthopaedics department as well as several other surgical specialties.
The hospital has English speaking staff and says reports, results and post operative follow-up are available in English as, and says most patients at the 500 bed facility will have a private room “with en suite bathroom”
Meanwhile senior A&E clinicians running 68 A&E departments in England and Wales wrote to the Prime Minister this week to warn that patients are “dying prematurely” in in corridors because of the lack of resources to cope with winter pressures.
The Independent approached South Kent Coast CCG was for comment but none had arrived at the time of publication.