UK flees NHS for BLR

More on how islands of quality are proliferating in India – the Guardian covers British medical tourism (via Political Animal):

Last year some 150,000 foreigners visited India for treatment, with the number rising by 15% a year… Naresh Trehan, who earned $2m… a year as a heart surgeon in Manhattan… said that his hospital in Delhi completed 4,200 heart operations last year. “That is more than anyone else in the world. The death rate for coronary bypass patients… is well below the first-world averages… Nobody questions the capability of an Indian doctor, because there isn’t a big hospital in the United States or Britain where there isn’t an Indian doctor working…”

“Everyone’s been really great here. I have been in the NHS and gone private in Britain in the past, but I can say that the care and facilities in India are easily comparable,” says Mr Marshall, sitting in hospital-blue pyjamas. “I’d have no problem coming again…”

As in most of India, the well-off live very comfortably after walling off the world outside:

“When I was in the car coming from the airport we got stuck in really heavy traffic… I thought, ‘Oh hell, I’ve made a mistake.’ ” But once in his airconditioned room [in Bangalore], with cable television and a personalised nursing service, the 73-year-old says that his stay has been “pretty relaxing. I go for a walk in the morning when it is cool but really I don’t have to deal with what’s outside”.

But high-end private hospitals far outstrip public ones in quality of care:

“The poor in India have no access to healthcare… We have doctors but they are busy treating the rich in India… For years we have been providing doctors to the western world. Now they are coming back and serving foreign patients at home.”

The island effect is natural, the public sector usually lags the private. But the disparity can become a flashpoint in the long run.

The comments on Political Animal are predictably tart:

gyp: I’ll give $500 to any commenter here who lives in the United States and is brave enough to go to India for his/her medically necessary CABG a/o valve replacement surgery.

Barry P.: What’s… amusing is the (predictable) myopic response of the average American idiot… that any medical treatment outside their borders amounts to little more than barber-surgery and ritualistic bleeding. Not so different than asking European and Canadian visitors if they have television yet.

Nancy Irving: I think it was in Verghese’s book (“My Own Country”) that I read about some rural American town where there are so many M.D.’s named “Patel” that amongst themselves they’re referred to as “Radiology Patel,” “Gastroenterology Patel” and so on.

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One thought on “UK flees NHS for BLR

  1. I wonder if this will cut into Mayo’s business? You know, easier to go to India from Saudi than to Minnesota.

    The U.S. medical system is too creaky. Beaurocrats run it, doc’s have little say in the day to day management of it. There is no relation between what you do, how you price it, and how you are re-embursed. None. I can spend two minutes on diagnosing a cyst, and two hours working up a difficult melanoma case, and still, I have to charge the same code. What the hospital gets paid for said charge depends on what the insurance company feels like paying. And I am in one of the most litiginous areas of pathology. Lots of money wasted on trying to get insurance to pay the bill – lots of waste and inefficiency.

    I’ve said for some time now that we in the US need a better business model. The medicine’s good – the system is inefficient as heck.

    Good for the Indian doctors who are setting up these hospitals – competition is always the best thing.