British patients turn to India for speedy treatment

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 17 December 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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LONDON: After call centres, private Indian hospitals are likely to be the next attraction for business from Britain.

Due to long waiting lists on the government-run National Health Service, British patients are unable to get speedy treatment for ailments, and many of them die while waiting for their turn on the operation table to come.

Taking recourse to private -- and speedier -- medical care in Britain is prohibitive, and out of pockets of most patients.

In this backdrop, India's private health facilities have begun attracting British patients for treatment at a fraction of the cost of going private in Britain.

Some leading Indian hospital chains such as Apollo have been attracting British patients who travel to India, get operated upon or receive the appropriate treatment within a day of landing and return to Britain at an affordable cost.

The latest example is of James Campbell from Aberdeenshire, who feels he got his life back after undergoing operations on his knees in Ahmedabad recently.

An arthritic, Campbell, 69, made the journey to India rather than wait two years for treatment on the NHS. He could no longer face the crippling pain in his knees.

Returning home, he said Tuesday: "It's the best thing I've ever done. I've finally got my life back.

"I was treated like royalty in the hospital over there. The staff and facilities were absolutely second to none.

"The place was so clean you could have eaten food off the floor. I don't think you can say that about many UK hospitals".

Campbell said all his life he paid national insurance and taxes, but said his having to go out of Britain for treatment was "a damning indictment of our health service".

He was considering going for an operation in a private hospital in Britain that would have cost him £20,000. His treatment in India cost him about £8,000.

Campbell booked into the Krishna Heart Institute in Ahmedabad for surgery after researching it on the Internet.

He and his wife Pam travelled there in October where he underwent two 45-minute operations, before spending three weeks recuperating.

The former shop manager said: "Flying over there for treatment may sound daunting to people but it's something I would highly recommend.

"Making that journey has allowed me to make the most of my retirement, instead of spending time cooped up in the house waiting for an operation."

Scottish Conservative health spokesman David Davidson said Campbell's case was a "damning indictment" of the NHS.

He added: "Despite all the billions of pounds poured in, more people are waiting longer, fewer operations are being carried out, and more and more people are faced with having to endure needless pain and suffering.

"The public is not fooled any more."

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