Travelling abroad for medical treatment
It’s important to know the risks if you are thinking of travelling abroad for medical treatment.
Standards of medical in some countries may not be the same as those in the UK.
Emergency facilities may not be available. And in some countries there may be a risk of transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C during medical procedures.
Before you go
Discuss pre-existing conditions with your doctor. Check the airline will allow you to travel. And consider the impact long distance travel will have on your health.
You should find out as much information as possible about the hospital before you make a decision. This should include:
- qualifications and experience of staff
- mortality rates
- success rates of the surgeon/doctor who will carry out the operation/treatment
- infection rates
- arrangements for follow up care
Consider a private consultation with a doctor in the UK who may be able to recommend overseas practitioners.
Costs, liabilities and insurance
Remember, it’s your responsibility if something goes wrong during or after the treatment. If there are extra costs you’ll have to pay them. We can’t cover these for you - so make sure you have enough to cover the price you are quoted and any emergency costs.
Make sure you have a written contract with the hospital. This should clearly outline what is and isn’t covered by the fee you have been quoted.
You may be charged for basic provisions such as soap, towels and bed sheets.
In some countries nursing care is not routinely available and friends and family are expected to provide care. Ensure the contract also sets out the arrangements for making complaints.
Be sure who is covering the cost of the following:
- additional medical or emergency treatment in case of complications
- medicines and dressings
- an extended stay for any friends or family accompanying you
- medical repatriation to the UK
- correctional treatment in the UK
- any follow-up treatment that is required
Standard travel insurance is unlikely to cover any extra costs as a result of medical treatment abroad. Be honest with your insurance company about your plans and tell them about existing medical conditions.
Cosmetic surgery abroad is often cheaper than in the UK, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is safer. You can find out more about cosmetic surgery on the Department of Health's website.
Our staff will not visit you while you are in hospital but may be able to assist if things go wrong. Make sure you have the number of the nearest embassy.