Medical tourism in UK
The interviews were structured with questions where the interviewees were asked to provide a little information about themselves and the medical sector they work in. They were also asked to give their opinions regarding the motivation of tourists towards choosing the UK as a medical tourism. While all the interviews had varied opinions, most of them agreed that medical tourists choose the UK as their destination due to factors such as advanced medical technology and equipment as well as free medical care provided by the NHS. When the interviewees were asked whether in their opinion medical tourism has a negative impact to the health industry and the country at large, most of them noted increased congestion in health care centers. For instance, Alice Kene, a technical laboratory assistant who participated in the interview noted that the congestion has rendered the service provision to both tourists and local people extremely slow.
Secondary Data Findings and Discussion As shown in the figure1 below, there are a number of factors that influence the demand and need for medical tourism from other countries. As observed, the need for this lies mostly on the patients from less developed countries seeking medical attention from the first world countries (Cannon 2007, p. However, the most influential factors are discussed as follow. The cost of undertaking medical tourism shares a greater percentage of 43, followed by the quality of medical care offered in other countries. On these two aspects, it is believed that a medical surgery operation is relatively cheaper in the UK for example compared to other countries. To avoid such long wait procedures, patients may have little patient and some end up looking for alternative facilities that can provide similar services thus attributing to 11% of the patients who seek medical care elsewhere.
Accessibility and availability of medical care in some countries attribute to 9 and 7% respectively. The developing countries may not be in a position to provide some medical services needed by patients leading to an increased outflow of patients to other countries (Álvarez et al 2011, p. Again, in instances where such medical services may be available, accessing them becomes a problem since the demand is high and the distance one has to cover so as to access this facility may be a limiting factor. In general, these are some of the factors that have considerable influence on medical tourism. More players in the industry will be expected to come in and this will aid in promoting the public image of the country medical services even as it attracts competition from other developed countries such as Israel, Singapore, Poland and USA among other European elites.
Noting from the interview conducted on Alice Kene, a technical laboratory assistant, the number of non-UK residents varies widely with every year that passes. However, it is worth noting that the UK has been found to be a preferred destination by most medical tourists due to the provision of medical services that are not available locally due to legal factors and the availability of the same services is similarly easy. With these factors coupled with the quality of medical practitioners and relatively affordable services compared to other countries, it is logical to point out that the UK will continue to be a hot spot for medical tourists all over the world. A lot of paperwork that is involved to acquire some medical care in some countries limits the ability of the patients to seek for local treatment and opt to travel abroad where the same services can be provided with ease.
For instance, participating in long flights after surgery has been cited to contribute to the development of deep vein thrombosis that can lead to even more severe complications such as pulmonary embolism. This can eventually lead to loss of lives and therefore medical professionals all over the world are wary of the complications that can result of proper care is not provided to traveling patients who are difficult to handle given the demand of other agencies such as immigration policies. Another problem that can result due to medical tourism is that traveling patients may not have a proper channel of launching complains probably because there are no adequate procedures to cover for such or such policies do not exist. This makes it difficult to effectively determine how traveling patients can be helped to ensure that they are guaranteed of their safety whenever they seek medical attention elsewhere across the globe.
Thirdly, lack of follow up medical care can greatly impact the health status of the patient. This attributes for both residents and non-residents UK citizens. Lately, there have been numerous cases of medical complications that have called for more attention from qualified medical practitioners. All sorts of medical surgeries that are conducted on patients may vary depending on the urgency as well as the availability of other factors that may be necessary for the surgical operation to be performed. As a result, it is no surprise to discover that majority of the medical tourist lie in the category of medical surgery. Notably, these surgical operations may be minor or major but the determining factor could be availability as well as affordability of the same medical care locally and therefore this explains the reason why a majority of the medical tourism fall under this category.
Figure4: Pie chart on common diagnostic in the UK Age group and gender Looking at the statistics on the age factor of the medical tourists, it is evident that as the age catches up with patients, more are seeking for medical care elsewhere. The findings from the interview clearly showcase that 40% of the medical tourists are above 35 years which is worrying statistics. Those with 30 years of age account for 30% of the patients while those with 25 years attribute to 16 percent. Patients with 20 years and below only account for 14 percent of the reported cases of medical tourists as shown in figure 5 below. The issue of age is also closely related to the gender factor and it was reported that the number of women who seek medical care from foreign countries greatly outnumbers the proportion of men.
Again, UK has been a favourite destination for the majority of women who seek surrogacy services which are not available in many countries, especially the less developed countries. For the case of the patient who is below 20 years, this may comprise of rare cases especially where someone is born with a health condition or problem that may need to be diagnosed later once they are more stable and the immune system is able to defend against maligns infections (Fetscherin & Stephano 2016, p. Such cases are minimal and that explains the marginal percentage of the medical tourists listed under the age group. Figure5: Pie chart on the age group of medical tourists in the UK Decision-making process The decision of pursuing medical care is influenced by various factors that are further enumerated in this analysis.
Nonetheless, the findings of this research provide accurate information that can aid stakeholders in the medical discipline to make preparations for future. Therefore, medical tourists from developing countries and those who are not able to acquire some medical care due to the cost factor have a better chance through NHS (Lunt et al 2013, p. The other aspect is the role played by the insurance companies in covering for some medical bills for their clients. In fact, some insurance companies have special insurance covers for patients with acute illness to ensure that whenever treatment is required, they do not have to worry about the hefty bills that are charged by clinics. Again, advancement in technology in the medicine has made it possible to perform some treatment such as specialized chemotherapy and this has also played a significant role in the decision-making process of the medical tourist.
The same can be said of the improved medical standards across the globe but most especially in the UK and this continues to influence the decision of seeking medical care from the UK. In contrast, abortion is Ireland is prohibited and thus patient may travel to the UK to enable them to acquire such medical facilities. However, such a practice has attracted criticism from the public as it contravenes ethical considerations and moral values. The same incident, however, may attract other legal prosecution depending on the jurisdiction of a given state. Therefore, despite the benefits that come along with medical tourism, it is important to remain cautious on medical malpractices that put the lives of patients at risk. For instance, illegal sale of transplant organs and tissue are some of the examples though on rare occasions that have been reported as far as medical tourism is concerned.
It has also been reported that in Thailand, doctors have shunned the responsibility of caring for the locals as they focus more on foreigners who are expected to pay fat checks for their medical care. Another aspect that has compromised the progress of medical tourism revolves around the misuse of technology such as stem cell treatments which does not put into consideration the safety of the patients. It also poses a challenge of distinguishing between the medically acceptable practices in instances where the use of technology for treatment is practiced outside the confined policies within a clinic setup. To avert such, all stakeholders, therefore, should take the responsibility of ensuring that proper care is provided to the patient of all races and integrity of health care practices are upheld.
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