Tens of thousands of people seeking to save on medical treatment costs are heading overseas for cheap operations – and Turkey is one of the top five destinations in the world for medical tourists.
Around 70,000 Brits head off to other countries every year to have medical and cosmetic procedures done as a way of getting around NHS waiting lists – or saving as much as £10,000. And industry experts expect this number to grow as the public health service becomes increasingly strained.
Last month, the Patients Association revealed that waiting lists for non-urgent operations grew by six per cent last year. If you’re in line for a hip operation the average wait is 99.2 days, and hernia surgery is up from 70 days in 2010 to 78.3 days.
But it’s not just crucial medical procedures that are sending fed-up Brits to hospitals in Turkey and beyond: research shows that four in ten medical tourists travel for cosmetic surgery.
Andrea Standsworth travelled to Turkey for breast reductive surgery. Suffering from constant neck and back pain, she had repeatedly asked about NHS surgery over the course of five years. Privately, the procedure costs around £6000 in the UK.
“I was in constant pain from the moment I got out of bed in the mornings,” Standsworth said. "When I realised the NHS wouldn’t come through for me I started looking abroad. I chose Turkey because of the cost and because it is a really nice place to rehabilitate.”
Standsworth paid just £3000 for surgery in Turkey and spent another £900 on travel for herself and her husband. She went from a 34J to a 34DD, and is now happier with her appearance and her health. “I’m so glad I did it, I am a new person.”
Research shows that a medical tourist travelling to Turkey and staying for a fortnight’s dental treatment would save £4700 compared to private treatment in the UK. More than 70 per cent of patients saved more than £2000 – even after accommodation and travel were factored in. One in ten medical tourists saves £10,000.
Top tips for medical tourists:
- Make sure you find a reputable doctor or clinic
- Read up on the procedure, ask searching questions and read the contract carefully
- Find out whether the clinic’s insurance covers action in the UK
- Check your travel insurance carefully – some companies do not cover medical procedures.