13 April 2007 - Despite huge investment in the NHS over the last 17 years, patients from the UK are voting with their feet and travelling abroad for treatment. The first ever survey of medical tourism providers, conducted by Treatment Abroad (www.treatmentabroad.net), reveals that over 50,000 people travelled abroad for treatment last year, and spent £161 million on medical tourism. The number of medical tourists increased by 25% over the 12 months and, predicts the survey, will continue to grow over the next 6-12 months. With NHS budget shortfalls and continued lengthening waiting lists it appears that medical tourism is a trend set to continue.
"There has always been speculation about the true number of medical tourists travelling from the UK for treatment." says Keith Pollard director at Treatment Abroad "we have seen visits to the www.treatmentabroad.net site grow from 3,000 a month to over 60,000 in March 2007, so it was obvious that people were researching treatment overseas. We instigated the Medical Tourism 2007 Survey to see just how many people where going abroad, where they we going, what for and just how much they were spending."
The Medical Tourism Survey 2007 reveals that India, Hungary and Turkey are amongst the most popular medical tourism destinations for UK patients.
Dentistry is the most popular service with dental treatments such as crowns, dental implants, bridges and veneers leading the way. Over 20,000 Brits travel abroad for their teeth, spending around £2,500 each, with an estimated market value of over £50 million per annum.
Cosmetic surgery is a close second with around 14,500 patients travelling outside the UK. Breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction and facelift are popular choices; patients spend around £3,500 each, creating an estimated market size of £50 million.
The most common types of elective surgery for patients travelling abroad are hip replacement, knee replacement, laser eye surgery and cataract removal, with some 10,000 patients spending £37 million in 2007.
With medical tourism gaining in popularity it is not surprising that there are over 500 clinics, medical tourism companies, hospitals, doctors, dentists and healthcare providers overseas, who are actively promoting their services to the UK market and wooing the British public to travel abroad for treatment.