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Holiday Health the essential things to know

When visiting France, it is important to have relevant information concerning health care and exactly what is covered following Brexit in January 2021. Knowing how to contact a doctor, locate a hospital or find a pharmacy...

Healthcare and important things to know…just in case

Visitors to France or other EU countries normally require an EHIC card which covers any healthcare costs whilst abroad. If you need to apply for this card, make sure you do so at least 6 months before your travel dates, applying online is probably the best option. Additional information can be obtained from the NHS Overseas Healthcare services or NSH website. Each family member will require their own individual card.

Since 1st January 2021 following Brexit, certain conditions have changed. All European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued before 31st December 2020, will remain valid in EU countries until their expiry date. They will then be replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

These cards cover state provided "medically necessary or emergency healthcare", which means that the treatment is deemed "necessary" and that cannot wait until the patient returns to the UK. This decision is usually made by the local health care provider.

Be aware that the EHIC or GHIC does not replace travel insurance. So, it is wise to take out your own personal travel insurance as well. Following treatment, you may have to pay all or part of the bill and claim a refund afterwards. It is therefore important to keep all relevant documents if you or your insurance company are claiming for a refund:

  • Invoices and receipts relating to the treatment.
  • Confirmations of any payments made to the health care provider.
  • Any insurance documents relevant to the treatment.
  • Discharge documents.

Hospitals in the Vendée – what you need to know

It is not always easy to deal with an emergency but when it is in a foreign country it can be even more worrying. Here is some essential advice which could be helpful.

The Vendée’s main county hospital the CHD or "Centre Hospitalier Départmental" is situated in La Roche sur Yon (their English page is under construction). However, the Centre Hospitalier "Côte de Lumiere" in Les Sables d'Olonne has an English page which explains what to do if you have to go to the "Urgences" (Accident & Emergency) and provides. These procedures will be fairly similar to the other regional hospitals.

Here is a list of the hospitals in the Vendée, alternatively a complete list can be found under "Hôpitaux" on the internet or page jaunes (yellow pages). The children’s hospital service will be listed under "Service Pédiatrie".

  • Challans - Centre Hospitalier Loire Vendée Océan
    Boulevard Guérin (near station)
    85300 Challans
    Tel: 02 51 49 50 00 
     
  • Fontenay le Comte - Centre Hospitalier
    40, rue Rabelais
    85200 Fontenay-le-Comte
    Tel : 02 51 53 51 53
    Urgences (A&E) : 11, rue Dr R Laforge, 85200 Fontenay-le-Comte
     
  • Ile d’Yeu - Hôpital
    17, impasse Louis Raymond
    85350 Port-Joinville
    Tel : 02 51 26 08 00
     
  • Luçon - Centre Hospitalier
    41, rue Henri Renaud
    85400 Luçon
    Tel : 02 51 28 33 33
     
  • Montaigu - Centre Hospitalier Georges Clemenceau
    54, rue St Jacques
    85600 Montaigu
    Tel : 02 51 45 40 00
     
  • La Roche sur Yon - Centre Hospitalier Départemental
    Les Oudairies (NE of Town)
    85000 La Roche-sur-Yon
    Tel : 02 51 44 61 61
     
  • Les Sables d’Olonne - Centre Hospitalier Côte de Lumière
    75, avenue d’Aquitaine
    85100 Les Sables-d’Olonne (English page)
    Tel : 02 51 32 05 77

Doctor’s « cabinets » and how to find them

France has a network of medical practitioner with surgeries being called "cabinets". Some may operate a system of joint practices or have a private surgery. If you require a doctor, chemists (pharmacies) will be able to advise you, or alternatively try asking some of the locals. In general, you will need to make an appointment.

Pharmacies are generally open from Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 7.30pm but can be closed at lunchtime. However, in most shopping centre they will remain open non-stop. There is generally one local pharmacy open or "on-call" on Sundays. These are called "Pharmacie de garde". Details of these pharmacies can be found in most pharmacy windows or by calling 3237 and indicating your postcode.

Useful emergency numbers and what they mean

In case of a problem or an emergency, dial the following numbers:

  • 18: Emergencies: This number will connect you to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) and should be called in life-threatening situations. They can also deal with medical emergencies.
  • 15: Samu:  for other urgent medical services
  • 17: Police / Gendarmes