Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

The Yvonne Watts Case: The EU and Health Care

Press Release from
For Immediate Release
EU encroaches on the NHS

The EU and Health Care

Robert Oulds


The Advocate General on Thursday, 15th December, gave his long awaited ruling on the case of Yvonne Watts who, because of the long NHS waiting lists had to go abroad to recieve treatment. This decision is set to be ratified by the European Court of Justice in the spring. Combined with provisions in the EU treaties this decision covers much more than allowing one person to have the costs of a hip operation reimbursed. It paves the way for the EU to extend its powers into the area of health care.

The UK is increasingly in the position where we cannot take action to improve health care without first tackling the ‘European’ question. The NHS is set to suffer as a result of the EU's extension of the Working Time Directive and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is coming into force, will add new burdens. Furthermore, it has not been realised, until now, that the European Union plans to establish this key public service as an area which national governments will no longer be able to control for themselves: a bombshell that politicians from all parties are yet to discover.

The NHS needs reform. But it needs a solid structural overhaul and not policy change by legal subterfuge. If some European states have a better Health service, it is not because of diktats from above: it is because of real diversity and the lessons of best practice learnt on the ground. The last thing the NHS needs is to see these alternative models homogenised in the name of standardisation - the socialist leg-irons of reform.

The Bruges Group originally exposed how the future of the NHS will be directed at an EU level. Through successive treaties and recent legal cases health provision is set to be run by the same organisation that brought us the CAP and the CFP.

Robert Oulds

Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group says,

"After heavy criticism from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, David Cameron has ruled out the introduction of 'Patient Passports' where the Government would pay half the costs of private treatment allowing those on long waiting lists to opt out of the NHS. Little do they realise that when the Advocate General's decision is upheld by the European Court of Justice the whole costs of treatment outside of the NHS will have to be met by the Government.

"Our politicians need to realise that they do not govern Britain and are incapable of reforming the NHS until they first tackle the European question.

"This decision goes some way to rubbishing the policies of all three main political parties".

Dr Lee Rotherham

Dr Lee Rotherham , author of the Bruges Group paper Health and the Nation says,

"This is another area where Gordon Brown has failed to budget for extra burdens put on the taxpayer as a result of decisions taken in Luxembourg.

"When the Advocate General's decision is upheld in the spring, many people will leave these shores to seek medical treatment on the continent. This will then be re-imbursed by the Government taking money and resouces out of the NHS. It destroys New Labour's waiting list system."

Click here to obtain full details of the Advocate General's decision>

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
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United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames