Brits lose ‘patients’ over NHS failings, with many seeking private healthcare abroad

30 October 2007
It appears that more people are heading overseas for medical treatment in light of countless reports of poor treatment, superbugs and long waiting lists on the NHS. There have also been reports that some parts of the NHS may be privatised as frustrations rise.

“British medical tourists are making great savings, avoiding long waiting lists and enjoying a great holiday to boot,” says UK website Treatment Abroad. Its research found that people in the UK have travelled to 112 foreign hospitals, based in 48 countries for treatment.

Approximately 70,000 Brits are expected to follow the ‘health tourism’ trend this year, with India cited as the most common destination for surgery. Other popular choices include Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Poland and Spain.

The Czech Republic has been picked out by many as a suitable destination for cosmetic surgery, while Hungary is the favourite among many for dentistry – another area where the NHS is said to be lacking.

And celebrities appear to be at the helm of this movement. Michael Owen recently returned from Germany following a double hernia operation, which suggests that saving money is not the only reason people are jumping on the wagon.

Despite this, patients may be better off opting for private healthcare in the UK. The British Medical Association points out that travelling abroad can put the body under pressure and that patients often do not allow for sufficient recuperation before making the return journey.

A new report to be published this week covering MRSA and Clostridium difficile in UK hospitals is likely to increase the number of people looking for alternative healthcare.

Find out more about private health cover and health insurance abroad

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