Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 16:48 UK

Manx visitors facing health bills

Noble's Hospital
UK residents will have to pay for Manx hospital admissions

Isle of Man residents admitted to hospital while visiting the UK will soon face charges - unless they take out travel insurance.

Officials have announced that the UK government is to end its reciprocal health agreement with the island.

Manx residents will still get free A&E treatment - but any subsequent hospital admission will be billed.

The 6,500 patients referred to the NHS each year for treatment will not be affected by the decision.

The Department of Health said no date has been set for the termination of the agreement, but it is unlikely to be before 2010.

When the agreement ends, UK residents who fall ill on the island will also have to pay for their hospital admissions.

This is another major challenge for the Isle of Man
Eddie Teare, Health Minister

The decision is expected to have a "significant impact" on the stretched Isle of Man health budget.

In the next few weeks, health officials will be discussing ways to ensure there is no adverse effect on services.

Eddie Teare, minister for health and social security, said: "This is another major challenge for the Isle of Man.

"I am greatly reassured, however, that the most important element of our relationship with the UK - referrals to the UK NHS for treatment we cannot provide on the Isle of Man - is unaffected by the UK's decision.

"It also shows how important the work already undertaken has been to ensure that Manx taxpayers received a cost-effective health service."

Government officials are stressing the importance of taking out health insurance to anyone travelling off the Isle of Man.

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