Saturday, February 25, 2006

Health tourism grows in UK

The UK already offers parallel private and public medical options. But citizens unwilling to pay the going rate for local private operators are looking offshore, according to this story from the Independent.

Some excerpts:

David Mills, the owner of Mills & Mills, says: "The main driver for people travelling abroad for healthcare is cost - private medical care is much more affordable in many parts of the world than in Britain."

His clinic specialises in cosmetic surgery - he quotes £4,750 for a facelift, for example, compared with £7,000 in Britain - but health tourists travel for a wide range of medical procedures. They include orthopaedic work such as knee and hip replacements, dentistry, laser eye treatment, and even more serious operations such as heart surgery.

Keith Pollard, who runs the Treatment Abroad website, which carries contact details for hundreds of health-tourism operators, says that business is booming. "We launched our site six months ago and initially received around 300 inquiries a month," he says. "Now, we're up to 1,000."

Pollard says that Britons eager to jump NHS waiting lists are often unable to afford private healthcare in this country. "Many people also say that the main reason they want to go abroad is that they're worried about the risk of infection in UK hospitals," he adds.

Other destinations mentioned in the story were Turkey for dental work and India for joint replacement.

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