of the corona crisis are
hitting European countries with varying degrees of severity. In order to
cope with urgently needed medical care in some countries,
patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are increasingly being treated across borders, including in Germany. The European
Commission consulted with the Health Security Committee (HSC) on this issue and
published guidelines on 3 April.
Alleviating overburdened healthcare
can only overcome the coronavirus crisis together’, said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides at the launch of the
guidelines on the cross-border treatment of COVID-19 patients and the
deployment of medical staff. The aim of the guidelines is to help relieve the
pressure in certain regions, organise medical care across borders, and prevent healthcare
shortfalls. The guidelines also make reference to financial aid provided by the
European Union (EU) through the Solidarity Fund and the Structural Funds.
The EU has experience with epidemics
If assistance is needed, a country can put in a request to the HSC, whose task
is to respond quickly to serious cross-border health threats. The European Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) will coordinate requests for
cross-border assistance related to intensive care places and the transfer of patients or medical personnel where appropriate.
The EU has a history of
dealing with SARS, influenza pandemics and other
crises. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is intended to coordinate and fund cross-border transport
in emergencies. The EU Commission is encouraging Member States to send medical personnel across borders and to
mutually recognise professional qualifications.
Essential – coordination legislation
The guidelines also provide guidance on the reimbursement of healthcare
costs for medical services provided across borders. This will be done
through established mechanisms and existing legislation on the coordination of social security
systems in Europe. In view of the coronavirus crisis, Member
States are being called on to apply the rules in a pragmatic and
unbureaucratic manner, particularly as regards prior authorisation and proof of
social security cover.