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As comprehensive as the treatment accessible in the UK through the NHS is, the fact that is does not cover some treatments, including cosmetic procedures, leaves many to seek surgery from a private practice. The next decision that needs to be made is whether or not to remain in the UK for treatment or choose the option of medical tourism.
Is medical tourism a good idea?
The relatively low costs of treatments in popular tourism destinations, including the likes of Thailand, Cuba and Brazil, lead many people to think that they are getting a sweet deal. There is also the added bonus of a tropical vacation to consider. However, in some cases, potential medical tourists need to consider the fact that the total costs of the journey may actually exceed the price of getting treatment locally.
Improved level of medical treatment abroad Traveling to locations such as Brazil or Thailand to get medical treatment has significantly improved to what it was some 20 years ago. There are also many more tropical diversions to enjoy in the days before the actual procedure. Many doctors in countries where medical tourism is popular have been educated in top western institutions, so you need not worry that you are going to be in the hands of some random person with a scalpel. These physicians are highly trained and many of the top medical tourist practices offer full packages to enjoy.
Should I be wary?
There are some destinations, however attractive they may, which should be avoided for a variety of reasons. In Cuba, for example, though medical tourism is heavily promoted by the dictatorial government and the country does possess many excellent doctors, the country’s medical system has collapsed over the past decade. So, while a medical tourist is receiving treatment in luxury facilities, the supply of antibiotics for people in the country is limited to the point that death by gangrene is not uncommon after workplace accidents!
Not just about the costs
One drawback all medical tourism procedures have in common is the affect of air travel on convalescence. This is not the case, for example, if you remain in the UK and visit Harley Street doctors. Since few medical tourists devote more than a full month to healing after a procedure done abroad, they often fly home well before their bodies have had time to heal. Air travel after a medical procedure can lead to painful swelling due to the change in air pressure. If you are lucky that will be the worst of it. However, if your procedure involved resetting bone or the insertion of implants, the swelling could undo the new aesthetics, leaving you disfigured until repair is carried out.
What about compensation?
Getting compensation for malpractice or other errors committed in a foreign country is a tricky matter impossible, and holiday insurance providers charge hefty premiums, which are often neglected by the average medical tourist. While not too common, the odds of your surgeon forgetting to remove a metal tool are much greater than when staying home and seeking treatment somewhere in London. Places like the many medical practices on Harley Street in London follow strict guidelines, and aftercare is also much better. So, considering the potential risks associated with medical tourism, it may be preferable to limit your trip to home.
About the author: Richard (@thefreshhealth) is a freelance writer who has written about a range of topics, including medical tourism, general health and dentistry. He is currently doing his rounds on the Harley Street Guide.