Travelling abroad for cosmetic treatment is becoming increasingly popular due to extensive advertising, heavy price competition by clinics overseas, cheaper flights and the option to combine a surgical procedure with a holiday. The industry is booming as is evidenced by the increasing number of advertisements for packages for treatment abroad.
Dubai is the latest country to announce that it is preparing to roll out medical tourism packages for overseas patients which will include procedures ranging from sports medicine to cosmetic surgery. It is intended to launch these tourism packages in September 2014 with the goal of attracting 500,000 medical tourists by 2020. The packages will include costs of treatment, visas, hotel stays and recreational activities for family members. Any Dubai hospital/health facilities interested in being part of this initiative will need to complete a detailed medical tourism eligibility form and submit all documents to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Medical Tourism Department.
It is understood that the hospitals/facilities will then be given a platinum, gold or silver membership based on their score and evaluation of the application submitted. Dr Ramadam Ibrahim, Director of Medical Regulation and Director of the Medical Tourism Programme, said: “The committee will look into detailed aspects of every health facility. For example, they need to provide us details of the specialties they would like to promote, the details of the doctors who provide those specialties, the number of procedures they have conducted, etc. All this information will be re-verified with the DHA health regulation office as part of the secondary verification check. In addition to medical facilities, we will also evaluate hospitals on the basis of the comfort and ease they provide to patients. This includes checking whether they have translators (and) chauffeur services ... which will all be part of the medical tourism package. At the end of the day, it’s about providing ... excellence in medical service.”
Dr Ibrahim has also said that all relevant stakeholders will work together to ensure that any medical tourists receive both excellent treatment as well as world–class hospitality.
Amy Milner, an associate within the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “We are seeing an increase in new enquiries relating to medical tourism. More often than not, patients from the UK are attracted to seek treatment abroad as the costs are so much cheaper. Patients are often offered similar packages to those being launched in Dubai later this year but, if something goes wrong, they are not necessarily given the appropriate advice/treatment and often feel as though they have been let down if the surgery doesn’t meet their expectations and/or there are complications.
“We are pleased to see that every health facility/hospital that wishes to be involved will be assessed before these packages are launched and all the information gathered will be re-verified as part of a secondary verification check. As Dr Ibrahim has correctly pointed out, it is about providing excellence in medical service and we hope that the packages launched will be safe for those travelling abroad.
“We would, however, advise anyone considering treatment abroad to err on the side of caution and ensure that they have researched where they will be having surgery, meet with the surgeon before the day of the treatment/procedure, and ensure they are aware of any of the potential risks/complications. Bringing a claim arising from treatment abroad is not straightforward and, if something does go wrong, there may be limited recourse available to pursue a claim against a clinic abroad. Thorough pre-operative investigation is therefore very important.”