NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 29, 2007

Record numbers of Britons are flying abroad for medical treatment to escape National Health Service (NHS) waiting lists and the rising threat of hospital superbugs, says the Telegraph.

According to research by Treatment Abroad, a consumer website:

  • More than 70,000 Britons will have treatment abroad this year -- a figure that is forecast to rise to almost 200,000 by the end of the decade.
  • India is the most popular destination for surgery, followed by Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Poland and Spain.
  • Overall, Britons have traveled to 112 foreign hospitals, based in 48 countries, to find safe, affordable treatment.

The findings come amid further revelations about the government's mishandling of NHS policies, and ahead of official statistics that will embarrass ministers, says the Telegraph:

  • New figures are expected to show rising numbers of hospital infections; Cases of the superbug Clostridium difficile are expected to increase beyond the 55,000 cases reported last year.
  • Statistics will also show that vast sums have been spent on pay, with general practitioners' (GPs) earnings rising by more than 50 per cent in three years to an average of more than £110,000 (about U.S. $226,000).
  • New research shows that growing NHS bureaucracy has left nurses with little time to see patients - most spending long periods dealing with paperwork.

"The confidence that the public has in NHS hospitals has been shattered by the growth of hospital infections and this government's failure to make a real commitment to tackling it," Katherine Murphy, of the Patients' Association, an advocacy group.  "People are simply frightened of going to NHS hospitals, so I am not surprised the numbers going abroad are increasing so rapidly."

Source: Laura Donnelly and Patrick Sawer, "Record numbers go abroad for health," London Daily Telegraph, October 29, 2007. 


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