When is Europe Not Europe?

In a recent survey it was found that awareness of the European Health Insurance Card is very high and many travellers find it to be an essential part of travelling. There were however a few misconceptions about the EHIC scheme and its benefits, along with certain exclusions. The EHIC is insurance cover that allows European citizens access to public healthcare whilst on holiday. The card will ensure the holder will be treated on the same basis as a resident from the country they are visiting. EHIC is very easy to apply for you can either go direct to the NHS website or fill in the form provided on our main page. However, it is important to be aware of exactly which countries are covered by the EHIC and any other exclusions.

EU Versus EEA

What’s great about the EHIC is that it is not just countries within the European Union that are covered. Countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are all covered in the EHIC scheme. This is because even though they are not members of the EU they are part of the wider European Economic Area. However, any country within Europe that is not yet included in either the EU or the EEA are not covered by EHIC. Therefore, countries such as Turkey, Serbia, Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine are not covered. Anyone travelling to any of these countries will require additional travel insurance that offers good medical coverage in the policy.

Smaller Nations


On top of those exclusions there are also some smaller nations not included in the EHIC scheme.  Some of which may be mistaken for being within the EU. San Marino and the Vatican City, which generally are thought to be part of Italy, are not part of the EU or the EEA meaning your European health insurance card will need be valid there either. Anyone travelling close to the UK to the Channel Islands or The Isle of Man cannot use EHIC here. This is not an issue for UK travellers as the UK has a reciprocal agreement to provide NHS cover with these destinations. Anyone visiting from other parts of the EU will need separate insurance cover.

Other Exclusions

What the EHIC covers changes from country to country. This is because each country has its own healthcare system and none are like the NHS in the UK. It is important to research the medical system of the country you are visiting before you travel so that you know exactly what you are entitled to. There is plenty of information regarding this on the NHS website. Remember, the EHIC only covers public treatment and not private. Should you require emergency medical care on your holiday, try and show your EHIC at the earliest opportunity and make it clear you wish to be treated by a public GP or in a public hospital. EHIC does not provide cover for any losses, theft or cancellation costs so it is vital you arrange additional travel insurance. A lot of travel insurance companies offer great deals and discounts to customers who own EHIC so shop around for the best policy for you.

Health Screening Schemes

In the U.K. there are hereditary disease control schemes set up jointly by the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club. In Labradors, the diseases covered are HIP DYSPLASIA, ELBOW DYSPLASIA – (OCD), HEREDITARY CATARACT, CENTRAL PROGRESSIVE RETINAL DYSPLASIA – (CPRA), GENERAL PRA – (GPRA), RETINAL DYSPLASIA.

The control schemes work as follows:-


The BVA has an appointed list of official eye specialists, each of which covers a geographical region of the country. They work to a set, agreed examination pattern. Dogs may be examined at any age. Each dog presented for examination is checked for all relevant diseases and an official certificate is completed, giving details of pass or fail for each condition. If a dog fails on any one condition, the certificate issued is a FAIL certificate. A PASS certificate can only be issued if the dog passes clear on all conditions. The eye certificate is valid for ONE YEAR and dogs should be subjected to an annual examination.

The results and date of the examination are recorded on the dog’s KC registration document. The results of the examinations are sent to the Kennel Club for publication in the KC Breed Records Supplement (a quarterly publication). Each dog is listed either as Affected or Unaffected. If affected, the disease is identified. The registration papers of any puppy, whose sire or dam has failed an eye examination, will be marked to show that the sire or dam is affected with an eye condition.

Since quarantine regulations have been relaxed some breeders have started to use stud dogs that have been examined under the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmology scheme.   This scheme works in much the same way as the BVA/KC one, the main difference being that the results are not published by the Kennel Club.  


The BVA has a panel of specialists in London, who read and assess the hip status of all examined dogs and a certificate is issued, giving details of failure points on each hip.

For an official reading, an x-ray of a dog may be taken from the age of 12 months. The x-ray is taken by the owner’s own vet, who is required to print the registration details of the dog on the x-ray plate. The x-ray plate is then sent to the BVA in London for reading. The panel of experts examine each plate and after taking certain measurements, list areas where abnormalities occur. A fixed range of points may be given to a total of 52 per hip. Nine areas of the hip are scored, zero being perfect, six being the maximum anomaly on each area. The results are then passed back to the owner’s vet and to the Kennel Club for publication and registration records.

Scores are usually referred to individually, i.e. left hip …. – right hip ….. (e.g. 4 – 3). However some times a total score is mentioned, where the scores from the left and right hip are added together, (e.g. 4 + 3 = 7).

Before the present scoring scheme came into effect, hips were simply graded into three categories, PASS, BREEDERS LETTER or FAIL. The pass certificate would have been equivalent to a total score of not more than 4 (one hip not to score more than 3, i.e. maximum score 1 – 3). Breeders letter was equivalent to a total score of not more than 8 with one hip not to score more than 6 (max. score 3 – 5). Fail was any score higher than 8.

In Labradors, the breed hip score details are passed to a geneticist, who analyses all the results and publishes, for our Club, annual figures, including the total number of Labradors scored, the range of scores and the breed average. As at the last report, dated August, 2000 a total of over 31,242 Labradors had been through the scheme, the range of total scores went from 0 to 104 and the breed average was a total score of approximately 16. Detailed records are also kept of the progeny of top stud dogs.


X-rays of elbow joints may be taken from one year of age, preferably at the same time as the hip x-ray. The procedure for x-raying and documentation is the same. Each elbow will be graded on a scale of 0 to 3. (0 being normal, 3 being severely dysplastic). The grade of the worst elbow will be used as the measure of dysplasia and will be published and recorded on registration forms. It is recommended that only Labradors with a grade of 0 or 1 are used for breeding.


The Labrador Retriever Club issues guidelines to Labrador owners regarding the use of these official schemes. All dogs should be examined before they are bred from, and only those dogs which reach the recommended standards of hips, elbows and eyes, should be used for breeding. Stud dog owners should ask to see the certificates of any bitch brought for mating and should only accept those, the certificates of which are in order. The puppy-buying public is advised only to buy a puppy from parents that have passed the official schemes.

The eye examination certificate is straightforward. If the dog fails, it should not be bred from. If a dog produces a case of GPRA amongst its progeny, it is a carrier of the disease and should not be bred from again. The hip examination is rather more complicated. A dog should only be bred from if its hips are of a satisfactory standard. We recommend a score of less than the breed average, or only marginally above it. A dog with a total score of more than (say) 16, should preferably be mated to a dog with a lower score if possible. The ancestors in the pedigree should also be taken into account. If a dog has a very low score, but its parents, etc. have high scores, it is less suitable to be bred from than a dog with a marginally higher than average score, the ancestors of which all had very low scores.

Annual hip score records are published in full, by the Club.

Copies of the Joan Macan Hip score books for 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 are available by post from:

Mrs Ifa Mohamed, Latchmead, Port Lane, Little Hallingbury,