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*UPDATED* Vaccine info, general info and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.  Hospital visiting restrictions in place.

Seeking medical treatment in an EEA Country

Planning treatment in a European Country   

If you are thinking about any sort of planned medical or dental treatment outside the UK, please discuss this fully with your GP, hospital consultant or dentist. Make sure you are fully informed as it is important to have the information you need to make the right choices. You will need to be fully informed about your European healthcare provider and the details of the treatment you are planning to have. You may also need to consider:

  • when you will be able to travel
  • how your medical notes will be exchanged between teams
  • arrangements for after-care or follow-up treatment either abroad or at home
  • how you would deal with any complaint or problem should something go wrong following your treatment abroad

There are two different routes to arranging treatment in an EEA country:

  • S2 scheme, formerly called E112 
  • EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive 

NHSGGC can help you decide which would be the better route for you.  You can get in touch by emailing [email protected]


All treatment under the S2 scheme requires Health Board approval before treatment can commence. Please click on the linked heading above for more information. 


The European Cross-border Healthcare Directive clarifies the rights of EU citizens who wish to:

  • seek any healthcare service, including private healthcare, in another European Economic Area country that is the same as, or equal to, that provided by the healthcare system where they live
  • claim reimbursement of costs up to the amount that the treatment would have cost had it been provided by  their home healthcare system, or the actual cost of treatment, if this is lower


The relevant European and Scottish legislation :

The process

Only treatments which are necessary to treat or diagnose a medical condition can be reimbursed by the NHS, and you may be asked to provide evidence that your treatment is necessary. Treatment must be the same as, or equivalent to, that which would be provided by NHSGGC in the circumstances of your particular case. The amount you can be reimbursed is limited to the amount it would have cost NHSGGC to provide your treatment. The cost of ‘extras’ such as upgraded rooms, meals, TV, translation, etc., which would not be incurred in respect of treatment provided by the NHS, cannot be met. If your healthcare abroad is arranged through a specialist travel agency, or other third party, none of their costs can be reimbursed. Travel and accommodation costs are not reimbursable under the Directive. 

If you are planning to seek treatment for drug or alcohol rehabilitation services it is a condition that, at the very least, an NHS assessment has been carried by your NHSGGC GP before you travel. You should contact [email protected] to ensure that costs will be reimbursed before making any plans to travel.  

If you are planning cancer treatment you are advised to discuss the planned treatment with your NHS Consultant and so be aware of potential risks which may occur as a consequence of treatment. You should contact [email protected]  prior to undertaking any treatment to ensure that it is one that is available in NHSGGC and also to obtain an estimate of the level of reimbursement as cancer treatments are delivered differently overseas and can cost significantly more than they would locally.   

Specialised Services: Prior authorisation for the reimbursement of costs is required if the treatment is included in the list of nationally funded Specialised Services.  NHSGGC will consider carefully every application for prior authorisation or reimbursement under the Directive and a decision made on the individual merits of the case. Please refer to the NHS Inform website for the reasons a Board might refuse authorisation.  

Clinical quality and insurance If you arrange your own treatment abroad it is important to understand that NHSGGC cannot vouch for the quality of overseas providers that the UK does not regulate. Neither S2 nor Directive authorisations will make NHSGGC liable for the clinical or criminal negligence of practitioners or clinicians in the proposed provider country. Any liability of the treating organisation would have to be established in accordance with the legislation of the provider state. You must satisfy yourself of the quality and outcomes of the service you are seeking to use, including making your own enquiries about the level of insurance held by the proposed providers and the level of any liability within the country where the treatment is to be provided. If you arrange and receive treatment outside of the UK you are not covered by the NHS Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts. You are advised to look into, and if available, take out insurance to cover all aspects of your journey and treatment. 

  • Countries in Europe where you can have treatment Austria  Belgium  Bulgaria  Cyprus  Czech Republic  Denmark  Estonia  Finland  France  Germany  Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein  Lithuania  Luxembourg  Malta  Netherlands  Norway  Poland   Portugal  Romania   Slovakia  Slovenia  Spain  Sweden  Switzerland (S2 route only)


Last Updated: 05 February 2019