Treatment Abroad: Beat the NHS Waiting Lists
A growing number of frustrated British citizens are opting to go abroad for medical procedures due to the NHS extended waiting lists and high cost of private care. It is estimated that around 200,000 Britons will travel abroad for treatment to avoid the queues, saving them thousands of pounds.
Long Waiting Lists on the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS), funded by taxes is the main body of public healthcare in the United Kingdom, which provides free or low-cost services to all UK citizens. Patients need to register with the NHS practice within their catchment area and depending on their condition, may have to wait several days for an appointment; patients can expect to wait longer to see a doctor of their choice. Although, this system has its limitations, with current resources stretched mainly due to budgeting and staffing cuts, the increasing demand for more doctors and long waiting lists for treatment have compelled British patients to seek treatment elsewhere. The NHS does not cover for cosmetic procedures. Patients that wish to see a specialist are required to see their GP first, they are then referred to the appropriate specialist – this referral can take up to 18 weeks. Patients that require treatment more urgently than those with less serious medical conditions have priority.
Startling figures reveal that waiting times on the NHS are at their highest in 7 years – with over 3.4 million patients, of which 6,100 patients had to wait over a year for surgery or treatment. In 2014 alone, 924,000 waited longer than the NHS 18-week target. Moreover, the wait for procedures ranging from cosmetic surgery to cardiology are considered to be over three times higher than Government estimates.
There is the option to go private for a specific treatment to beat the NHS waiting times, however, many without insurance are unable to afford the extortionate medical fees, and in fact, many Britons have discovered that treatment in other European countries can be considerably cheaper. These savings are reflected in data, which indicate that 70% of medical tourists from the UK have saved above £2,000, and 13% say that they have saved over £10,000.
Alternative Healthcare Options for Britons?
Treatments that require necessary intervention can be funded in order for a patient to travel to Europe, provided their specialist or GP approves. However, it is not possible to claim for travel or accommodation expenses. In addition, the European Cross-Border Healthcare Directive may cover the cost of treatment for Britons travelling abroad, but only for urgent procedures and those that have over an 18-week waiting time - leaving those that do not qualify to pay out of pocket for treatment. Data over the last 6 months indicate that treble the number of Britons are seeking treatment abroad.
Medical Tourism for Britons
Everyday life is particularly difficult for Britons that are suffering from a certain medical disorder (that they are yet to receive treatment for), take for example, knee-replacement surgery; one can expect to wait a minimum of 13 weeks for treatment on the NHS. In addition, awaiting treatment can have a detrimental effect on their health, as many conditions worsen over time, as do the symptoms. Patients with cancer or cardiac disease that require immediate intervention can benefit by seeking early treatment to prevent worsening of their condition. Medical tourism is a solution to the (aforementioned) issues facing many Britons. Medical tourists have the freedom of choosing their clinic and doctor, saving money and most importantly – receiving the treatment that they require without depending on long waiting lists.
Patients are advised to take medical travel insurance; specialist travel treatment abroad covers for treatment abroad, but not for extended hospital stays or other treatment-related complications. Insurance schemes also exist for medical that exceeded your quote (medical cost over-run insurance). There are also medical insurance schemes that are specifically designed for medical tourists, patients should thoroughly explore the types of insurance schemes offered.
Treatment is equally accessible for urgent and non-urgent cases. Orthopedic surgery and ophthalmology treatments are growing in demand for Britons over the age of 50. Other necessary treatments include dentistry, infertility treatment, knee replacement surgery, bariatrics and other types of elective surgery.
Why Choose Treatment in Israel?
Apart from seeking treatment in Poland, Hungary and Thailand, Israel has become a popular destination for medical tourists from the UK. Indeed, in 2014, the Medical Tourism Index (MTI) ranked Israel third for medical treatment among other leading countries.
Israel, a culinary and cultural melting pot that is less than a 5-hour flight from the United Kingdom. Following treatment, patients can relax, recuperate, and enjoy the stunning Mediterranean coastline or take a trip to the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth and the only natural source of unique salts known for their miraculous healing properties for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and more. Post-treatment patients can also enjoy the wide array of attractions, historical and religious sites.
Israel is at the forefront of medicine, within medical technologies, drug discovery and research, to name a few. Extensive medical services integrate the latest, innovative approaches in modern medicine, while adhering to strict international hospital protocols. Doctors undergo their training at prestigious international institutions; continually investing in further training and teaching opportunities. Israeli specialists share their vast expertise at international conferences and events, and successfully publish their research in numerous scientific journals. Excellent specialists across a myriad of medical fields, including oncology, cardiac surgery and orthopedics and their multidisciplinary approach, ensure that patients receive comprehensive and personalized treatment.
High success rates, particularly within bypass surgery and IVF treatment distinguish Israel from other top hospitals abroad. Israel is renowned for its infertility treatment; many Britons can wait up to 2 years on the NHS for IVF (which is also not offered in 5 UK districts) and as success rates depend largely on a woman’s age among other factors, the sooner IVF is performed the greater the chances of conceiving. Furthermore, once couples commence IVF, they can expect to pay between £6,000–10,000 – compared to Israel £4,500-8,000. Orthopedics in Israel excels utilizing advanced, high quality prosthetics in joint replacement surgeries, as well as minimally invasive techniques with fewer complications has led to a patient’s rapid recovery.
Cancer treatment in Israel focuses on the use of cutting-edge diagnostics that accurately detect cancer, even in the early stages – this is essential, particularly in the treatment of lung cancer – one of the most aggressive cancer with a high mortality rate. Whether elective, or urgent surgery or treatment, all patients receive quality treatment, positively influencing their everyday lives. A recent grant of over $50 million to the Weizmann Institute, Israel, will advance the field of personalized medicine, which focuses on treating an individual’s genetic makeup, rather than the disease itself, opening unlimited possibilities in medicine and the way we perceive disease.