Why Do People Travel Abroad For Healthcare?

Here in the UK, we’re lucky to have a free healthcare service such as the NHS, yet more and more people are leaving the country to receive treatment. It’s so popular that the phrase ‘medical tourism’ has even been coined.

But what is the allure of going abroad for healthcare? What is it that’s making people fork out all that money on medical bills and plane travel that they wouldn’t have at their local hospital. Here are a few reasons.


To reduce waiting times

Despite measures being made to reduce waiting times in UK hospitals, getting treated for something that isn’t considered ‘urgent’ can still take a matter of weeks. This is the result of multiple issues including funding and subsequent staff shortages. Those not wanting to wait such ridiculously long times opt to go private.

But even private institutions in the UK can occasionally have their waiting times, especially for niche procedures. As a result, many will fly abroad to get their treatment quickly. Upcoming events and responsibilities, financial strain from time off work or the fear that the illness may suddenly get worse can all spur impatient patients to go abroad.

Specialist care

Sometimes, going overseas may ensure more specialist care for your particular treatment. There may be a specific surgeon for the job (for example many venture to California just to get rhinoplasty plastic surgery from Dr. Raj Kanodia) or there may be a specific hospital for your area of expertise (The Shinagawa Eye Centre in Singapore for example specialises entirely in eye treatment). Pursuing specialist care may result in less risk during surgery or more thorough examinations due to expertise and specialist resources.

Better quality care

A bad experience with UK doctors and nurses may be enough to send someone looking abroad. This could be a bad experience with the NHS or private hospitals or a combination of both that led people to believe care is better abroad. Alternatively, some wealthy people may just want a little more luxury – more than any UK is able to offer. Some hospitals such as South Korea’s Wooridul Spine Hospital are practically like five star hotels offering patients everything from deluxe rooms to their own computer.

Recuperate in the sun

Some seek medical treatment abroad simply so that they can combine it as a holiday. Surgery can be pretty scary and painful stuff, so why not counterbalance it with the excitement and adventure of a vacation? Instead of spending your recuperation period stuck on the sofa on a grey winter day, you could be out relaxing on a sunbed in a tropical heat. It’s probably psychologically much better for you, as instead of feeling trapped in your own home, you’re out of the country soaking up a new experience. And if you’re not totally bedridden by your treatment, you may be able to go out and see some of the sites whilst you’re there (although you should probably hold back on physical activities like waterskiing and beach volleyball!)

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