Is health tourism ruining NHS?

Is health tourism ruining NHS?Healthcare in England is provided by National Health Service, a public health service, which is non-discriminatory and free at the point of use though there are charges attached to eye tests, dental care, prescriptions and various aspects of personal care. Health is a devolved matter in the United Kingdom, therefore other members of the UK have their separate bodies, which provide healthcare elsewhere. Aside from the public healthcare, there is also private healthcare available, but it is used by less than 10% of the population.

Health tourism is a type of tourism in which patients from highly developed countries travel to other highly developed countries to receive medical treatment. Typically, travelers look for places which perform advanced surgeries such as joint replacement or cosmetic surgery. Patients with rare genetic disorders may look for countries where those disorders are better understood. Health tourists look for better standards and lower prices, that differentiates them from people who travel to other countries because treatments, which they need are unavailable in their countries.

London is the most popular medical tourism destination in England and one of the most popular and lucrative destinations in the world. Even though London does not promote itself as such, it still gathers patients from around the world, especially from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Medical travel agencies very rarely promote the British capital as a destination, because it offers no bargains, the hospitals and clinics located there do not pay commissions to agencies for patient introduction and very rarely work with the agencies at all. It prefers to gain reputation through quality of services offered rather than promotion. Many hospitals further attract patients by organizing accomodation for relatives and offering interpreters or special menus.

First ever comprehensive assessment of health tourism has been conducted and released to public in 2013. A report.


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