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NHS in a ‘DESPERATELY SAD STATE’ as number of patients seeking healthcare abroad TRIPLES

Posted on 23/10/2017 by

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THE NHS is currently in a ‘desperately sad state’ as the number of UK patients seeking healthcare abroad has tripled, a new report has learned.

Data shows that 144,000 people travelled abroad to avoid lengthy wait times from the health service last year, a rapid increase from 48,000 in 2014.

Joyce Robins from Patient Concern, a health campaigning group, said: “It is a desperately sad state of affairs that people who have paid into the NHS all their lives are finding it is not there for them when they need it.

“These are essential operations, but thousands of people are being left in pain and misery - for every person who goes abroad there will be many more left suffering.”

The report, conducted by The Telegraph, discovered that increasing wait times, especially on hip, knee and cataract operations was a cause of UK patients opting to go abroad.

Current statistics show that 409,000 people are waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment in the UK, up from 34,000 in 2014.

Scarlett McNally, from the Royal College of Surgeons, stated: “With over 400,000 NHS patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned treatment, and an increasing number of clinical commissioning groups restricting access to surgery for certain groups of patients, it is not surprising that some people will look elsewhere for healthcare.

“It is hard to say whether current strains on the NHS explain the rise in patients travelling abroad for surgery.

We are aware, however, that more patients are using private healthcare, at least in part because of longer waiting times.”

The NHS will now ask patients for bank statements and bills in order to find and charge those who should be paying for treatment in a bid to cut the number of people taking advantage of the service, according to the newspaper.

The effort is being used to cut down the number of patients waiting over 18 weeks for rightful treatment.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) states that 198 per cent more people are travelling abroad from the UK to receive medical care.

The group has also revealed that 143,996 flights took place from the UK for medical reasons with 100,338 and 48,190 taking place in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Eastern Europe has proven popular for treatments in dentistry and cosmetic surgery while France and Switzerland are being targeted for hip and knee operations with the former seeing six times the number of people and the latter seeing a 60 per cent rise.

Ugur Samut, the CEO of Medigo, a medical travel website, declared: “What we are finding is increasing numbers of patients from the UK wanting to avoid the waiting times on the NHS.

“We are especially finding that in orthopaedics, that is one of the biggest areas.”

NHS cutbacks to fertility treatment are also seen as a reason ten times the number of people are flocking to Spain with the country putting a heavy emphasis on their treatments in the area.

The EU is being labelled as a further reason for the abandonment of domestic healthcare with the NHS covering funds for treatment they would provide for free in other member countries.

Mr Samut cited that 60 per cent of people going abroad know that costs will be covered.

Professor Philip Schoettle, from the Knee and Hip Institute Munich, stating the country is seeing a drastic rise in the number of wealthy Britons travelling abroad for German healthcare.

He claimed: “We are seeing a lot of patients from the UK. A lot of the time it is people working in finance, whose insurance is international and they don’t want to spend all that time on a waiting list.

“Germany has very low treatment costs - they can come here and spend their time lying in a luxury suite, with an a la carte menu and physiotherapy twice a day - they are getting first-class treatment and also getting pampered.”

The Department of Health has commented on the significant rise in patients refusing to take part in excruciating wait times.

A spokesperson said: “The NHS has recently been independently judged the best healthcare system in the world and is providing safer care to more people than ever before – last year 11.6 million operations were carried out on the NHS, 1.9million more than in 2010.

“There are many reasons why people seek treatment abroad, and the total number who did last year is less than 1 per cent of those who began treatment in the UK.”

Source: Express