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Patients go abroad to avoid waiting

People are seeking medical treatment abroad because they fear contracting infections and battling waiting lists, a new survey claims.

The website believes around 100,000 people travelled overseas for surgery and dental treatment in 2007.

Its poll of 648 patients who underwent treatments abroad found that 83% wanted to save money on the cost of private procedures in the UK.

Most (97%) had a good experience and would be willing to do it again, while saving cash was the main motivating factor.

But 63% of those choosing elective procedures made the move abroad to avoid NHS waiting lists, while 56% were concerned about infections such as MRSA.

However, a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We have an NHS in this country that we should be proud of.

"A recent survey showed that more than 90% of patients rate their experience as good, very good, or excellent.

"The vast majority of those who travel abroad for treatment do so for surgery that is not available on the NHS, and the numbers doing so are a tiny fraction of the 350 million patient treatments the NHS carries out each year."

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"I think this is an enditement on the NHS as an organisation. Certainly NOT from the clinical staff perspective. The way the NHS is both financed and managed at government level should be reviewed. The NHS should be service end-user prioritised and the service provision requirements clinically led, rather than by Government (who should be held to account for their mismanagement of Taxpayer's funds). Why should someone PAY TWICE let alone go abroad for a perceieved better service?" - James A Bremner, NHS Highland

"People come to our clinic through simply because they are looking for cheaper, more personal, quicker, and in some cases better quality options for their dental treatment pressures. The NHS has failed terribly in this area and it will take years to rectify the situation, if at all." - Name and address supplied

"In my opinion system abuse leads eventually to poor quality of care. The NHS falls within this. Becoming a free international service being a factor for the exodus of some patients seeking service abroad, if it does exist." - V Henry, London