New research from UK health insurer BCWA suggests that more than half of Britons (53%) would be prepared to travel to other EU countries for medical treatment.
Nearly three quarters (70%) of those willing to travel to Europe say they would do so because they are simply not prepared to wait for treatment in the UK.
The survey also found as many as 44% who believe they would receive a higher standard of care and more than a third (38%) think there would be less fear of contracting hospital infections such as MRSA and C. difficile.
Germany was listed as the EU country people would most prefer to be treated in (60%) while France and Sweden were ranked second and third with 53% and 44% respectively. Only a quarter, however, would be prepared to go to Spain and Italy (26% and 25%), while just 3% said they would trust Romanian medics to provide them with the appropriate level of care. Some of the preferred countries have costs higher than in the UK.
BCWA managing director Jamie Wilson says: “The NHS works hard to ensure as many people as possible receive treatment where and when they need it, but our survey shows an increasing number of people would be prepared to travel abroad for often routine operations to avoid waiting for NHS hospital appointments. People also seem to think that by receiving treatment in other EU countries they would have a reduced risk of contracting hospital infections such as MRSA and C. difficile. While overseas treatment may be appealing it is important people don’t overlook additional costs such as airfares, hotels and food and drink. These things all cost money and can be doubled if people want to be supported by a loved one. One solution that guarantees being treated quickly in the UK, with an excellent standard of care, is to take out private medical insurance. While this obviously comes with a cost, it removes any thoughts of having to travel to another country and, more importantly, lets people choose when and where they are treated.”