September 26, 2007

Britain health solutions in India

The medical fraternity here has begun to accept that soon enough India may monitor the healthcare of thousands or of millions of people in Britain.

Brits will have access to what promises to be a trans-boundary, market-led system in which the middle classes will routinely shop around the world for the affordable and speediest medical treatments. In this search so far India comes tops.

Almost all patients who went from here have returned fully satisfied and have praised the doctors and facilities at the hospitals they were treated.

This is just one of the latest instance of British patients flying to India for treatment. The traffic is growing fast and travel agencies like Thomas Cook have now package plans for " sun and surgery" in India.

Several Indian hospitals and pharmaceutical companies too have been probing possibilities of attracting patients from here.

A Health Tourism Exhibition held at London's sprawling Alexandra Palace last month attracted a lot of attention from not only the medical fraternity but also of families who wanted to know first hand the medical facilities and costs for treatment in India.

But more than such campaigns, the conditions in the NHS hospitals here, the fear of MRSA and the long-waiting lists are making more and more patients searching on the Internet the best offers from India.

In some hospitals the sight of corridors cluttered with trolleys, of patients occasionally lying there waiting for a bed to become available and the dismissive behaviour of over-worked nurses and doctors often reminds one of similar scenes in Sadar hospitals in a few small district towns in India.

There is of course quite a resistance here. Even one Indian GP pooh-poohed the move to send blood and urine for Lab tests in India.

The Department of Health here too does not want a movement towards India.

A team from India was told that under rules patients are not allowed to undertake any air journey, which takes more than three hours.

But such constraints have failed to dissuade patients in agony and those who cannot afford high cost f treatment or wait in pain until they reach the top of the long queues for seeing a NHS consultant.

Many Brits have returned from India with flattering tales of the quality of service there.

The exodus of junior doctors, which has started due to lack of opportunities for them, will further worsen the situation here. The outsourcing of the healthcare to India is now definitely on the cards.

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