Unless you’re lucky enough to be covered by your employer, you’ll know that the Middle East is notoriously expensive for healthcare. According to one study, costs soared more than 13% in 2019, and they’re set to climb another 14% this year fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, diabetes, and lifestyle diseases. As a result, more and more people are looking further afield for specialist treatment; especially if you can access a better standard of healthcare for less.
The United Kingdom, in particular, has a world-renowned reputation for its healthcare, and though the NHS is only available to citizens, its doctors and healthcare practitioners are oft considered more genuine and compassionate than doctors in countries such as the United States, where judgement cannot be driven by profit. Accessing a UK-based doctor or healthcare practitioner, or indeed booking yourself in for treatment in the United Kingdom, is easier than you might think: below, we’ve rounded up a couple of options for you to consider.
Become a “health tourist” and visit the UK
Although the NHS was founded on the principle that it’s a service “free at the point of use”, that is only the case for UK residents. If you’re looking to access medical treatments in the UK and you’re not a citizen or don’t have residency status, then the chances are that you’ll need to pay a fee. This is the case for GP appointments right through to lifesaving surgeries, but it’s good to know walk-in centres and A&E departments don’t charge for emergencies.
If you’re settled in the UK or you’re a full-time student, you won’t have to pay for treatment. If you’re a resident or national of an EU country, you’ll also be able to claim free or discounted healthcare in the UK; the NHS will then charge your country of origin or residence for the cost of your treatment. Tourists from countries like Australia receive free urgent treatment if needed when they’re visiting the UK, though this health arrangement is currently in review.
According to the Department for Health, the cost of ‘deliberate’ health tourism is around £110 million per year, and as a result, hospitals and healthcare professionals have been clamping down on foreign nationals using the UK healthcare service without charge. Therefore, it’s not recommended that you visit the United Kingdom without a prior appointment or healthcare insurance, or you could face a hefty fine should you need to be treated when you’re visiting.
Going for medical treatment abroad means you’ll have to find a private healthcare provider in the UK, and make travel and accommodation arrangements for during and after treatment. It’s vital that you consider things such as language barriers, the exchange of medical records for pre- and post-treatment, and arranging aftercare when you return to the Middle East. It’s likely that in some cases, you’ll be asked to stay on for several days or weeks for monitoring.
Something else you’ll need to bear in mind when travelling for healthcare is taking out an insurance policy. Most insurance providers don’t cover you for planned treatments, and thus specialist cover is recommended to give you added protection against additional expenses.
Consider the Doctor Book & Meet platform
We were proud to launch the Doctor Book & Meet platform earlier in the year, specifically tailoring our service to meet the demands and expectations of those living in the Middle East. Our service offers an easy, viable, flexible and innovative communication channel between patients and healthcare practitioners, putting you in touch with some of the most professional and respected doctors and healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom.
Doctor Book & Meet allows patients based anywhere in the world to choose from a growing number of specialist consultants, book a one-off appointment, and arrange a private virtual consultation over platforms like Zoom . And because professionals on the Doctor Book & Meet platform work for themselves, you can speak to an expert at a time that suits you from the comfort of your sofa – with new healthcare professionals joining every day.
Whether you’re looking for an initial consultation, need a second opinion, or you want a follow up on a previous diagnosis, Doctor Book & Meet is the first step in receiving treatment in the UK. You can choose a consultant, arrange a consultation, meet face-to-face in the UK for your treatment, and then follow up when you’re back home. We’re breaking down the barriers of traditional healthcare and offering a fresh, common-sense alternative that puts both the patient and the doctor at the forefront. We can even offer you an interpreter service if required, allowing you to pass on the benefits of our service to your extended family! Also, We can help you to find accommodation that suits your requirements and religion
Travelling abroad for specialist treatment can be daunting and expensive, which is why we recommend using the Doctor Book & Meet platform first. Click here to find out more and get started with a consultation on our website. Our verified doctors are waiting to help you.