As a retired 66-year-old chartered engineer, I had experienced private health care and surgery in the UK, until age 60 when the BUPA costs rose too steeply for me to continue. So, I am able to give a good account of the comparison with the Mumbai experience.
The company first came to my notice in a BBC documentary, which gave me some confidence. Nevertheless, I did a lot of homework online, and obtained quotes from the UK private sector, France, South Africa, and Australia (where I visit each year anyway). Not only did the company offer by far the lowest cost, but the London-based CEO, Dr Shah, was extremely thorough in answering queries and providing information such as the CV of the surgeon, and he takes care to establish that patients do really need the surgery before they travel? in my case, I sent an X-Ray to the surgeon in Mumbai, enabling him to confirm the extent of surgery required, before committing myself financially.
Dr Shah has local coordinators who represent his company in Mumbai, and they also provided an excellent service, arranging transport, visiting me in hospital, always enquiring if there was anything they could do for me, giving me a car tour of the city (from my hotel), and always a mobile phone call away if I had a sudden need to speak to them. I found them good company. Throughout all this time, although I was able to dial my wife myself from my hospital bed, Dr Shah in London was giving frequent telephone reports to my wife on my progress.
The hospital where I was treated was a modern building on the northern edge of the city, in an area of rapid high-rise development, and my large private room with satellite TV enjoyed an equally large private balcony overlooking the hills. It had a pharmacy, a general shop, and a bank, all in the entrance hall, but the most useful facility to me was the internet room where I was able to do my emails regularly. My most lasting impression was just how lovely the hospital staff all were, in every sense? caring, obliging, helpful, efficient, thoughtful, professional? they ensured that everything was a pleasure. And of course there was a virtual army of staff. The first effect of this is an immaculate hospital. My room was thoroughly cleaned several times per day by a team of cleaners, each with a specific role, and each working in the logical sequence. When my food was delivered, each dish had been individually shrink-wrapped then the whole tray shrink-wrapped in the kitchen, and the delivery boys all wore food-preparation uniforms including hair covers. I would be surprised if these general hygiene standards are surpassed anywhere in the world. Of the non-medical hospital staff, I have to give special mention to the public relations team headed by Mrs Roma Megchiani who was just so charming and attentive, visiting each day, providing security for passport and valuables, arranging the trips to the internet room, and generally checking on any admin needs in liaison with The Medical Tourist Company reps.
Both the surgeon, who had worked in the UK for 8 years, and the anaesthetist spent time with me the day before the operation, explaining their intentions in detail, and ensuring I had no more questions unanswered. After surgery, patients go straight into the intensive care unit with blood pressure and ECG (heart function) monitored and recorded every few minutes. So I knew my post-operative condition was being properly managed. I do recall after surgery on the same knee many years ago in the UK, coming round from the general anaesthetic, lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor.
As soon as I was awake in intensive care, the surgeon was there, telling me how the operation had gone and the decisions he’d made and why. In my case, the operation having gone well, and recovering fairly rapidly from the anaesthetic, I only needed about 24 hours in intensive care, and I was off back to my private room. There was a follow-up visit from the anaesthetist, but the surgeon visited me daily, sometimes twice, checking on me and on my progress with the physiotherapists. Later, just before returning to the UK, it was the surgeon who removed the stitches.
The nurses were just wonderful, as they probably are in the eyes of a helpless patient anywhere. They worked methodically with medications, to a documented checklist, but if I said I was in any pain they would not query me nor say they had to check with a doctor, but within seconds they would give me an injection. As in hospitals anywhere, the day starts early, and bed-linen was changed at 6.30 am, so you had a nice clean neat bed for breakfast.
One morning I still felt sleepy at 6.30, and the nurse said “That’s OK, you have another couple of hours sleep, and we’ll come back later”. As well as the nurses, there were a number of doctors including the surgeon’s assistant who had specific input to my treatment and attended me. I simply cannot find the words to describe my gratitude and high regard for the care they provided me.
After 8 days in the hospital I transferred to a nearby hotel, and returned to the hospital for 90 minutes of physio each day for the week in the hotel. I walked around shopping centres to satisfy myself that I could cope with the long walk through Heathrow Airport, without needing a wheelchair. I travelled back to London on the 15th day after the operation, and all continues to go well. I hope I don’t need surgery again, but if I do it will most probably be in Mumbai.