Together with the bailiwick of Guernsey, Jersey forms the group known as the Channel Islands. With a population of approximately 88,000, the island is 45 square miles. Similar to Guernsey, Jersey is not part of the UK, but is instead a dependency of the British Crown.
Generally speaking, the standard of healthcare in Jersey is good. The island has a low infant mortality rate and, at the opposite end of the scale, 94% of over 65 year olds live independently. Smoking prevalence is at an all-time low of 20%. However, there are healthcare issues that need to be addressed. 42 islanders die each year as a direct result of alcohol consumption. Breast and cervical cancer screenings remain low and, as with many other countries, obesity is becoming a more common concern.
Jersey is also suffering from an ageing population. The fastest growing sector of the population is those over the age of 85. This necessitates increased focus on services that are likely to be needed by this particular age group. This includes treatment for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cognitive deterioration and other ailments associated with the aged.
In order to qualify for Jersey’s health insurance scheme, you must be either a resident or employed on the island, having paid the necessary social security contributions for a qualifying period of six months. The health insurance scheme offers both medical and pharmaceutical benefits. If you are eligible, both you and your family are entitled to assistance for the cost of GP visits (either in the surgery or at home) and the cost of prescription medicines (from a prescribed list of products).
Eligible people will be given a Health Benefit Card. The card can be used by children under 16 and those over 16 years of age in full-time education. All family members must be registered with the Social Security Department.
Similar to the situation in Guernsey and other smaller islands, you may need to go to the mainland for the treatment of some conditions. This being the case, it is advisable to ensure that you have some form of international health insurance as repatriation costs can be extremely expensive. During 2004 there were 172 air ambulance flights which transferred patients to the UK.
A list of doctors can be found in the “Yellow Pages” and patients can choose their own doctor. It is recommended that you register with a General Practitioner (GP) as soon as possible. As the GP’s in Jersey are private, they will set their own fees, with additional charges being applied for services such as blood tests, injections, etc. If you are entitled to medical benefit, the doctor will, generally speaking, reduce your bill to reflect the portion that you must pay. In some situations you may be asked to pay the bill in full and then seek reimbursement from the health department.
In 2006, Jersey recorded over 122,000 out-patient visits. This is an increase of 45% in 5 years. In the same period, the volume of operations has also risen by 6% to record 12,400 operations.
There is one emergency department in Jersey. There are 9 emergency ambulances and 13 non-emergency ambulances which have several different uses, including transport to and from healthcare facilities. Paramedics are highly trained and skilled in the use of advanced life support techniques including administering of a range of drugs.
As noted earlier, a “Prescribed List” details the prescriptions that are available at a subsidised rate. Pharmaceutical benefits will cover the cost for the majority of the prescription items. However, if you are prescribed a product that is not on the list, you will have to pay the full cost to have it filled. There are a number of pharmacies open outside normal business hours, including Sundays.