Britons Go Abroad for Healthcare

By: Club La Costa

While Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was out marching to protest against NHS plans to downgrade his local hospital in Chichester a few weekends ago - aptly named St. Richard's - record numbers of Britons continue to fly abroad for medical treatment.

Last year Britons spent ?60m on overseas treatments. Main reasons were lower prices, NHS waiting lists, a better choice of alternative medical treatments and cosmetic surgery clinics such as those in Marbella where many patients choose to combine procedures with a break in the sun to return home looking better on the outside and feeling better on the inside. With many increasingly concerned about the rise in hospital superbugs, more people are also choosing to recuperate overseas in a warmer climate following surgery.

Market researchers Mintel recently reported money spent by Britons going abroad for treatments will increase 150% by 2011. According to the survey a quarter of Britons would seriously consider recuperating abroad after an operation and one in eight would go overseas for surgery.

"This sector (medical tourism) is a thriving industry as a growing number of well-off baby boomers take their health needs into their own hands and pursue the elixir of eternal youth," said Richard Cope, senior Mintel analyst.

But what happens when you fall ill abroad? One of the largest holiday resort companies on the Costa del Sol, Club La Costa, offers onsite medical care at its California Beach Resort near Mijas. Now, thanks to a new contract negotiated between the modern, high tech Xanit Hospital in Benalmadena which opened in 2006, and Club La Costa, the hospital's state-of-the-art facilities and highly trained medical staff are available to both CLC members and staff in Spain.

Richard Fletcher, Resort Director at Club La Costa Resorts & Hotels, said: "We've always made it a priority to have medical provision on site, but our new agreement with Xanit means that should any of our members need medical treatment while on holiday, not only do we have access to one of the top hospitals in southern Spain, it's literally minutes away."

As for alternative therapies and keep-fit, Britons seem to be increasingly looking overseas for a better deal. Last year, Britons spent about ?25m on going abroad for yoga holidays, holistic healing, health farms beauty treatments and spa visits, according to the Mintel report.

Spain is one of the most visited destinations in Europe for surgery, especially for patients who want to combine medical treatment with a wellness holiday; also popular are Hungary, Turkey, Germany and Poland.

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