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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Barend van Leeuwen

Van Leeuwen, Barend (2019). The Patient in Free Movement Law: Medical History, Diagnosis and Prognosis. Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies 21: 162-186.

Author(s) from Durham


Free movement of patients has been criticised from the moment that the first patient cases reached the CJEU. The moving patient supposedly increases consumerism, reduces national solidarity and has a negative impact on the quality of healthcare provided in some Member States. This paper challenges the empirical foundations of such criticisms. An empirical analysis of all patient cases before the CJEU shows that a significant number of patients required urgent treatment, that their medical condition was life-threatening and that they were supported by their treating doctor in seeking treatment in another Member State. Moreover, free movement of patient cases regularly lead to positive changes to national healthcare systems. Therefore, the negative attitude towards free movement of patients should be reconsidered. Patients, doctors and lawyers have to think more strategically about how free movement can be used to improve the quality of healthcare in the EU.