The health sector crisis is exacerbated by the strike of British nurses (Vuk Walcic/Getty)
The health care problem in the United Kingdom is not a spur of the moment, and several factors contributed to its exacerbation, but the high number of people traveling abroad to receive treatment indicates the erosion of the British health sector, which is under severe pressure, especially after the Corona pandemic, and before it exit from the European Union, which made It led to a huge shortage of manpower.
The latest figures issued by the “National Health Service” center show that 7.19 million people were waiting for treatment during the month of November, in addition to the presence of more than 575 thousand who were waiting for more than a full year, and the figures also show that there are more than 600 thousand patients They are waiting their turn to get health care in Scotland, in addition to the nearly 750,000 in Wales.
Over the past year, one in six adults in the UK were in urgent need of medical examination or treatment and could not access it, the rate being the worst in continental Europe, and almost three times the average in the European Union.
And the shortage of medical staff is not confined to hospitals, but has extended to include the mental health sector, and according to data collected by the British Broadcasting Corporation “BBC”, mental patients who contemplate suicide in England are at grave risk, as one out of every five calls that reached helplines is not answered. The assistance of the National Health Service, and during the last year, 418,000 calls were not answered, and this reality forced many Britons to seek medical alternatives outside the United Kingdom.
The pandemic was not the main reason behind the exacerbation of health care problems. Rather, institutions have been suffering from problems since Britain’s exit from the European Union, at which time the number of workers in the health sector decreased to more than 87 percent, and before the pandemic, in February 2020, there were At least 4.43 million patients are on health care waiting lists, and at least 87 million patients have been waiting for treatment for more than 18 weeks. On average, a patient has to wait at least 14 weeks to receive treatment.
In addition to the shortage of manpower, the high prices also contributed to forcing some Britons to travel abroad for treatment, specifically to Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, or Turkey, and according to data from the British Medical Association (BMA), no less than 35 percent of Patients spent their own money to obtain health care, but a large proportion of patients were unable to pay the high costs, so they had to travel abroad.
For example, the cost of hip replacement surgery is $14,800, and the same goes for knee replacement surgery. As for minor surgeries, it costs approximately $4,000. These costs cannot be afforded by many Britons, which drives them to travel to cheaper destinations, and Lithuania is currently the cheapest destination.
And the British newspaper, The Guardian, revealed that a knee replacement surgery in Lithuania, including airfare, hospital stay, and pre- and post-operative examinations, amounts to $6,800, or about half the cost in the United Kingdom.
And increased during the recent period, the promotion of surgical operations outside the United Kingdom, according to data trends of the search engine “Google”, which showed an increase in the number of searches for private health care outside the United Kingdom, and the numbers of the Private Healthcare Information Network reveal that the number of those who self-pay for expensive care , increased by more than a third, compared to what it was before the Corona pandemic, with a 193 per cent increase in the number of people paying for hip replacement, which is the most common operation in the United Kingdom.
Despite the absence of figures on the numbers of Britons who traveled abroad to receive treatment during the past two years, data issued by the National Statistics Authority estimated that about 248,000 people residing in the United Kingdom received medical treatment abroad during the year 2019, before the health pandemic. Compared to 120,000 in 2015, the number is likely to have increased after 2019.
The Guardian estimates that the number of Britons traveling to Kaunas in Lithuania for orthopedic surgeries will rise to more than 500 patients this year, including hip or knee joint replacements, and others, up from 2022 figures. Who registered approximately 392 patients, compared to 150 patients before the pandemic.
In the past, many Britons used to travel abroad to perform plastic surgeries, including a tummy tuck, or cosmetic dentistry, but these trends are beginning to witness a clear change, and Keith Pollard, editor-in-chief of the International Medical Tourism Journal, explains that there is an increase in demand for Basic medical care services.
Usually, patients undergo a remote consultation before traveling, during which a health questionnaire is filled out, relevant examinations and blood test results are submitted, and upon their return, they are expected to undergo x-rays after three months, to be returned to the clinic if anything goes wrong, and patients have the right Get more free treatment then.