The UK Government’s announcement that it is to continue healthcare funding for S1 holders for just 6 months was top of the agenda for the meeting between members of BiE’s advocacy team and the Foreign Office Minister of State Chris Pincher yesterday evening (23 September).
Within hours of the announcement, which was released at midnight, BiE and its member groups had received an unprecedented flood of e-mails from people with serious and often terminal conditions who are desperately worried about how to fund their treatment, much of which is very expensive. We explained this to the Minister and read out sample quotes. He said that he found it genuinely helpful – and we hope that he will pass on to the Cabinet exiting the EU sub-committee on which he sits not only the degree of anxiety which the announcement has caused but also how many people retired to the EU having budgeted carefully to stretch a meagre income a bit further and quite literally could not cope with healthcare costs on top of the devaluation of their pensions.
We pointed out that the DHSC announcement made no reference to the UK’s previously-stated policy of trying, in the long-term, to reproduce the existing EU reciprocal social security and healthcare scheme through either an EU-wide, or bilateral agreements, but the Minister assured us that this remained very definitely Government policy.
We also discussed issues which we have raised previously: the rights of returning British nationals to bring family with them, university fees for British nationals living in the EU and pension increases.
On the Government’s “get ready for Brexit” campaign, we stressed the importance of spelling out not only the steps which need to be taken by pensioners but also steps, such as securing recognition of qualifications, which those of working age must take to secure their livelihoods.