For many Brits travelling abroad is for no other reason than spending a week relaxing in the sun, for others it’s for lifesaving surgery.
As the NHS struggles to cope with an increase in demand, patients are seeing waiting times of up to 18 weeks for necessary surgery, leaving some with no choice but to either go private or head abroad.
Under EU regulations British citizens are entitled to receive treatment abroad, if it is offered on the NHS. Countries such as Spain, Greece and Switzerland have seen a particular rise in Brits visiting just for treatment.
It is worth noting that if you travel abroad for treatment, any associated costs will not be covered under travel insurance. This is because your travel insurance is only for emergency medical treatment that cannot wait until your return to the UK. In addition, the EHIC follows the same principles. Should you need any aftercare following surgery, you may find yourself facing huge medical bills (for example, in Greece, surgery is free of charge however the nursing costs following surgery are not).
According to the Telegraph*, the number of people going abroad for treatment has increased from 48,000 in 2014 to almost 144,000 in 2016. The rise is thought to be associated with hip, knee and cataract operations, as well as people heading abroad for fertility treatment.
Although the option to travel abroad may be appealing for those who are in pain and do not wish to wait to receive treatment, please remember the medical bills can be costly and unfortunately travel insurance is not able to cover this.
*Stats sourced from The Telegraph