Friday, July 20, 2007

Interview with David Hancock - Author of The Complete Medical Tourist

Below are some informative and enlightening thoughts by David Hancock - the author of The Complete Medical Tourist - about the factors leading to the growth of medical tourism in the UK. We had a chance to interview him recently where he shared his views about the sad state of Britain's NHS, the ever-growing wait-lists for treatment and other things. Here's the interview..


Question: Did you personally seek medical treatment in any overseas hospital before you got the idea of writing The Complete Medical Tourist? How did you collect the information you used in your book?

It is a strange story but it started when I fell off my bicycle in the Docklands area of London and fractured my pelvis. I was rushed to hospital and operated on immediately, but while recovering in the orthopaedic ward I heard stories of people who had been waiting two years, in considerable pain, for hip or knee replacements.

Then there was a post-operative infection discovered on the plate placed in my pelvis, which resulted in me having to undergo a hip replacement operation myself. All this from falling off a bicycle.

As a journalist I decided to investigate alternatives to Britain’s National Health Service. Private treatment I found was prohibitive because of the cost for people who did not have private health insurance. I discovered that a hip replacement in the UK was around £12,000 but if one went under the channel tunnel to Belgium the cost was halved. In India the same operation was a quarter of the UK cost. I had discovered medical tourism.

I decided to write The Complete Medical Tourist for anyone wanting to go abroad for treatment. All clinics, hospitals, addresses, web sites, costs of treatment and other important information from countries worldwide are available in one paperback book.

I researched clinics in Europe and used a string of friends round the world to help with information from more far-flung places’

Question: How is the National Health Service scene in Britain? Are the wait-lists long? For what kind of surgeries do patients have to wait the longest? Is that because of a lack of doctors/surgeons or because of poor infrastructure or something else? Is the government doing anything about it?

Billions and billions of pounds have been poured into the NHS in recent years and waiting lists have been cut, but patients are still waiting months for non-urgent operations. The longest waiting lists are usually for orthopaedic operations even though sufferers may be in considerable a pain and find walking difficult. The NHS is like a big black money pit, you can pour as much into it as possible but it will never be perfect. It is the hottest political potato in the UK with its promise of free medical care from cradle to grave and no political party has had the guts to promise long-overdue reform involving private medical insurance, so it continues to swallow billions and billions of pounds in taxes, with the common perception that nothing is getting better. Hospitals are dirty and superbugs like MRSA are prevalent.

Question: Do many people in the UK go to private doctors to avoid waiting for treatment? Or do they prefer knocking at their neighbors’ doors? If so, which countries do they usually choose to go to? How much of a discount can they get in those countries when compared with that in the UK?

As I mentioned earlier merely going to mainland Europe can usually cut the cost of private medical treatment in half compared with UK costs. Belgium, France, Spain, Germany and even Poland are proving to be favourite European destinations with East European countries like Hungary and Poland especially good value for dental surgery.

People who have private UK medical insurance will be treated in the UK, but once insurance companies embrace ‘medical tourism’ they will be able to cut their heavy premiums and will see an increase in take-up.

Question: Do UK patients also travel far to countries like India or Thailand? For which surgeries are these countries famous for among UK folks?

With long-haul holiday destinations on the increase combined with state-of-the-art hospitals like the Apollo Group in India it is no wonder that Far East countries are becoming a major choice for UK medical tourists. Prices are even more affordable that in Europe. Orthopaedic surgery, eye surgery and cosmetic and dental surgery is still the backbone of medical tourism. But Thailand is also famous for gender re-alignment and India offers every possible kind of medical surgery from cancer to cardiac treatments.

Question: Do you expect the medical tourism trend to continue to grow in the UK?

Medical Tourism is not a flash-in-the-pan. Its growth in the UK is around 50 per cent a year, which exponentially is quite an amazing figure. In the US it accounts for $5 billion to $6 billion a year. Not a lot compared with a healthcare industry of $2 trillion a year, but it is growing fast. To dismiss it would be foolish

Question: What do you tell medical tourists to keep in mind when deciding upon an overseas facility for treatment?

The first thing to remember is that the ‘medical’ part is the most important and not the ‘tourist’ bit, Some people can be easily swayed by the thought of recovering in a five-star hotel on a tropical beach, but the medical facilities and treatment are more important than the sun tan.

Research thoroughly the destinations and establishments you might wish to go to. The Complete Medical Tourist is a good reference book to begin with, from there you can phone the clinics, speak to the doctor who will be in charge of your case and assure yourself you are in the right hands. Ask for testimonials from previous patients, and follow that up – talk to those people.

Take into account the flight time and cost. You might want to go business class for extra comfort, and you may wish to take a partner or friend to be with you. This will all add to the cost.

Don’t forget to inform the person from whom you buy your travel insurance that you are traveling for medical treatment. This may, or may not, affect the premium you pay.

Question: When will we see the next edition of The Complete Tourist? What topics are covered in it?

I am still negotiating with my publisher about a future edition of The Complete Medical Tourist and no date has yet been set. But one thing is sure; it will be bigger, better and take into account the major strides in medical tourism since my book was first published.

Question: Would you like to add anything else?

Just to say thank you for inviting me to say a few words and the best of luck with Healthbase Online Inc.


Thanks, Mr. Hancock for sharing your thoughts with us. We hope to see the second edition of the Complete Medical Tourist soon.

Stay tuned y'all.. We'll soon be posting more interviews with other famous personalities in the medical tourism business..

This exclusive interview was brought to you by Healthbase. For more information on medical tourism visit Healthbase.com.

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2 comments:

swadesh said...

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swadesh said...

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