Proving habitual residence is notoriously difficult and it is not reliant on living in one country for 6 months or 183 days. There are several factors to be considered when a person needs to prove habitual residence. The factors include country of birth, location of the person’s main home, where the person’s main income originates, where the person pays income tax, which country provides the person with healthcare. This list is not complete, there are other factors, but the points I have listed are important.
However, an even more important factor is where the person most wants to live, where s/he will feel safe and secure.
Tom was born in Paddington, London, in the UK. His only income is a combination of UK State Pension and a UK private pension, out of which he pays a small amount of tax to the British Government. Tom is of no fixed abode, his last main home, in which he could live, was in St. Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, in the UK. France, through bureaucratic inefficiency at best, or unacceptably unjust reasons at worst, has prevented Tom from receiving healthcare here that has not been funded by his UK pensions. Tom became so ill and vulnerable that he desperately wanted to go home to his brother in the UK.
So, the above factors beg the question, which country was responsible for Tom’s healthcare when he returned to the UK on Friday 1st February 2013?
I know what my answer was!
On the Monday after returning to the UK, Tom went to his brother’s doctor to try again to obtain urgent medical care. He was told by the receptionist to go to a hospital ‘drop in’ centre, and that’s what he duly did, taking with him the French documents given to him by the doctors at the Limoges hospital. No joy. The doctor who saw him said, ‘I can’t read French, sorry.”
On the Tuesday, Tom was running short of steroid medication, steroids taken in high doses can’t be stopped ‘cold turkey’ style. In desperation, he telephoned the DWP in Newcastle and started to clarify his situation to the lass on the other end of the telephone. She asked him a few questions, mainly relevant to his nationality, age and pension status, she then told Tom to go, immediately, to the nearest hospital A&E. He did. That’s where Tom was finally properly assessed and given appropriate treatment, he was in the hospital all day.
Well, that’s not strictly true, he was given a letter instructing any GP to prescribe the correct medication for his condition, his condition was clarified in the letter.
On the Wednesday, Tom approached no less than five local GPs for that prescription, he was refused by all five GPs.
On the Thursday, Tom returned to the hospital A&E Department and advised them about the difficulties he was having, and the fact that he had taken his last dose of steroid medication earlier that morning. A hospital doctor immediately gave Tom the essential prescription and a local chemist filled that prescription.
Tom has now informed the DWP, Newcastle, that he will be returning to France, he will not be going back to the UK and he has applied for an S1. In the meantime, RSI Aurillac have told me they will definitely add Tom to my carte vitale, RSI Clermont-Ferrand have not adhered to the rules. Voila!
Three doctors who assessed Tom’s condition in the Limoges hospital advised me that he had a ‘mass’ in his left lung that was affecting the pleural cavity and exacerbating his COPD-related breathing problems. They couldn’t identify the ‘mass’ without further tests, they said it could be anything from an abscess or ulcer to a tumour, and they opted not to advise Tom directly as he was considered, at that time, too ill and vulnerable to be told. But, they concluded, they were treating it as a severe secondary infection, primarily to keep further infection at bay, and those tests were urgently required.
The tests were carried out in the UK hospital and Tom is receiving intensive treatment for a severe lung infection that, ‘…was possibly caused by exposure to carbon monoxide over a sustained period of time.’
Throughout the past year, I have been affected quite badly at times by asthma – I hadn’t had an asthma bout since just after we moved to France early in 2007.
The lads have had dry coughs, off and on, throughout the past year. We put that down to living back in a house environment following years of living out in the fresh air!
Carbon monoxide? Very possibly. The lads are much younger and fitter than Tom and me, they don’t sit ‘on top of heat’ as we tend to do – old bones! Of course, Tom was always going to be the most vulnerable due to the COPD.
We have lived in a couple of houses during the past 5+ years, where there have been open log fires. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused by open log fire chimneys that have not been swept as often as they should. That’s a very important fact for consideration by anybody who reads my blog and who has an open log fire – keep yourself and your loved ones safe, have your chimney swept as soon as possible if it hasn’t been swept within the past year.
Tom will be returning to France on Wednesday 20th February, we will be waiting for him. We have all missed him so very much.