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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Indian op woman dodges NHS wait
Operating theatre
Private treatment in India is a "fraction of the price" it is in Britain
A British woman flew to India for an operation after discovering she would face a year-long wait for NHS treatment on an injured shoulder.

Sarah Paris, 43, from Torquay, Devon, was treated at a private hospital in Chennai, formerly Madras.

She paid 1,700 for her treatment, a fraction of what it would have cost in a British private hospital.

The mother-of-two said: "If you can't afford private treatment here, this is a really affordable option."

And she heaped praise on the Indian doctors and hospital staff, joking that the way she was cared for made it "almost worth being ill".

Mrs Paris, a former police officer, damaged her shoulder while doing some DIY in October.

Private treatment

She paid for private physiotherapy treatment for several months before visiting her GP at Easter when the pain became unbearable.

Mrs Paris was told that it would be six to eight weeks before she could have an appointment with an NHS physiotherapist.

She then learned it would take several more months before she could have an NHS assessment for surgery, and a further nine months before the operation.

You're doing the NHS a favour by going abroad and making space available for more needy people
Sarah Paris

By this time she was unable to move her shoulder and was supporting her arm in a sling.

In a bid to overcome the pain, she investigated the cost of private healthcare and discovered that it would cost over 10,000 to be operated on privately in Britain.

Although European countries such as Spain, France and Germany were cheaper, India was "a fraction of the price", she said.

Ten days after sending an e-mail to the hospital in India, she was on the operating table.

Despite recommending that other people in her position investigate having surgery in India, she said she was not criticising NHS treatment.

Mrs Paris said: "I think doctors and nurses do a splendid job. People think you're knocking the NHS, but you're doing the NHS a favour by going abroad and making space available for more needy people."

Health tourism

Growing numbers of British patients have chosen to travel abroad for operations in recent years.

In August 2002 pensioner John Guy, from Newton Heath, Greater Manchester, flew to Egypt for a hip replacement operation.

The retired gas worker paid 7,300 from his savings to have surgery in a private hospital in Cairo after waiting eight months to be treated on the NHS.

And in October 2003 widow Blanche Beynon, from Cardiff, paid 7,000 for a knee replacement operation in Belgium because she was scared of catching the MRSA superbug in a UK hospital.

A government scheme to cut waiting times in UK hospitals was launched in January 2002,

The first year saw 234 NHS patients travel to France and Germany for operations.


SEE ALSO:
India's 'five-star' hospitals
29 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Scot's praise for Indian surgeons
13 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Overseas op over superbug fear
29 Mar 04  |  Wales
Foreign op may cost man his leg
24 Jun 04  |  Devon
NHS faces foreign op payouts
02 Oct 03  |  Health


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