Patients keen to combine their heart operation with a dream holiday abroad will be courted this weekend at a new health tourism exhibition.
The Health Tourism Show 2008, which claims to be the first of its kind in the world, will showcase clinics from about 20 countries, offering everything from cardiology to breast enlargement and dental work.
Organisers of the show, to be held at London’s Kensington Olympia, say the credit crunch is making people more reluctant to shell out for expensive treatment in the UK and more adventurous about seeking a cheaper option abroad.
Forecasts suggest that the market for health and medical tourism is set to grow from about 100,000 trips in 2008 to more than 200,000 trips in 2010, they say.
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to browse treatments including tummy tuck, liposuction and gastric bypass in Tunisia, IVF in the Ukraine and heart bypass surgery in Malaysia. And all will be offered at cheaper prices than can be found in the UK.
One Portuguese clinic offering dental holidays in the Algarve, Multiclinica Medefidental, provides dental implants priced at 800 euro (£635) each. In the UK they can cost thousands of pounds.
Malaysia’s Healthcare and Wellness clinic meanwhile offers everything from heart surgery and hip replacements to breast enlargements and plastic surgery on eyelids – all at bargain prices and combined with “alluring post-operation locales with engaging scenery and relaxing beaches.”
Others also offer the opportunity to combine their treatment with a dream holiday, enticing prospective patients with tourist attractions and hotel deals.
Show director Dr Robert McCaffrey said: “As well as the financial benefits, patients undergoing cosmetic surgery, for example, may not want all their friends and family to know about it and so would prefer to convalesce abroad where no-one can see the swelling.”
For the surgeons, the show will provide an opportunity to cash in on the growing trend of Britons seeking foreign treatment. Treatment Abroad, an online guide to medical tourism and a sponsor of the event, estimates that the UK medical tourism market is currently worth £375,319,000.