Norwich Union reveals Brits travel abroad for medical treatment

27 May 2005
As flights become ever cheaper and the world seems to shrink ever smaller, intrepid Brits are venturing abroad not only to sample foreign cultural delights but to have their hips replaced.

According to Norwich Union Healthcare's Health of the Nation Index, just under three-quarters (74 per cent) of GPs admit that their patients are travelling abroad for medical treatment because they are fed up with UK waiting lists.

Almost half (45 per cent) the patients who do go abroad for treatment do so for major operations such as heart surgery and hip replacement, with the most popular medical destinations including India, Costa Rica, South Africa, Germany, America and Thailand, the report states.

"I'm surprised by these results. I didn't realise that so many people are seeking diagnosis and treatment abroad," said Dr Ann Robinson, one of the GPs interviewed for the Index.

"If everything goes according to plan, having an operation in another country may seem like a good solution; however, patients must be fully aware that there are a number of risks associated with having an operation abroad which may not occur to them before they travel."

According to Norwich Union, risks include language barriers, which can make it difficult to understand complex procedures; coping without family and friends, and risking aggravating an existing condition, such as thrombosis, through air travel.

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