British travel group ABTA has criticised the government for failing to back the continuation of the European Health Insurance Card scheme following Brexit.
At present, a valid EHIC gives UK citizens the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European country.
EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until a planned return home.
However, facing the Brexit Select Committee earlier, David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the European Union, was unable to endorse the continuation of the scheme.
Asked by Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit committee, if he could confirm that UK citizens would no longer have access to the EHIC health treatment card, David replied: “I think that’s probably right.
“I haven’t looked at that one.”
In response, ABTA has argued change is not automatic.
Alan Wardle, ABTA director of public affairs commented: “ABTA disagrees with David Davis that UK citizens will have to lose the EHIC health treatment card.
“Brexit shouldn’t have to mean that we lose reciprocal medical care rights with other European countries: the EHIC card is currently valid in Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU.
“It is an important consumer protection for British citizens, used over 200,000 times last year, and the government should seek to protect it in the upcoming negotiations.
“Maintaining consumer confidence on issues like this will be important over the next couple of years.”