UK to pay Brits' healthcare for year if no-deal Brexit

S1 pensioners fear funding cuts

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Bristish pensioners in France have spoken of their fears over the future funding of their healthcare in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It comes after the UK announced that in a no-deal it will fund the healthcare of S1 holders for a year in the case of treatments which they have ‘applied for or are undergoing’.

If pensioners return to the UK, they can use the NHS immediately without having to prove UK residency, Health Minister Stephen Hammond told Parliament.

Gary Stark, 68, from the Tarn-et-Garonne, who recently underwent a quadruple heart bypass said: “I am president of an association of older people here who all came as EU citizens expecting the benefits to continue. Now we face being deprived.”

He said the drop in the sterling exchange rate had left him and many others relying on UK pension income struggling. “We don’t all live in chateaux with pools and vineyards.”

France has passed a no-deal law which says British pensioners may stay in the healthcare system for up to two years under the same conditions as French people. It is not clear if this would require an annual payment which in France is a set 8% of capital income.

A no-deal could happen on April 12 after the March 29 Brexit deadline was deferred.

The S1 is an EU scheme so British pensioners would lose access in a no-deal.

Hugo Slater, 70, from Calvados, who was treated for prostate cancer and needs ongoing check-ups, said “I am very concerned at the prospect of losing my entitlement”.

He also questioned what would happen if new ailments arose after Brexit. “At my age, you could have a stroke or a heart attack – what about that? I’m not reassured. Both sides seem to have good intentions, but it’s not the same as a signed agreement. Plus, the UK government could fall, so statements now might not be fulfilled.”

Mr Stark added: “I dread having to return to the UK but I couldn’t get private insurance with my history.

“If healthcare cover goes, we will have to return to the UK, we’ll have no choice.” Peter Mercer, 83, from the Var, said: “We could end up almost losing everything.

“All this uncertainty is causing a lot of stress, which is not good for older people’s health.”