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Sun, sea and cheap surgery

11th August 2010 Print

Brits are heading abroad in their thousands for nips and tucks, cosmetic dentistry and medical procedures such as IVF and surrogacy that are restricted in the UK according to new research from specialist currency broker,

New research conducted by the firm has found that one in 20 people - or 2.65 million - have recently been abroad or are making plans to travel abroad for a medical or dentistry procedure.  Whilst the main reason for people wanting to go abroad is to cut costs (69%), a substantial number want to incorporate the surgery or treatment into a holiday (13%) or avoid NHS waiting lists (10%). estimates that Brits looking to have medical or dental surgery could save an average of 64% by having their operation abroad.  The company's analysis of 24 common medical and dental procedures across ten popular medical tourism destinations reveals that people could save an average of around £14,500 on general surgery, £4,000 on cosmetic surgery and £740 on dental procedures by having them carried out abroad.

Someone receiving a quotation for a heart bypass abroad for around £9,438 in January could now be looking at paying as much as £10,710 for the operation - an increase of £1,272 - as a result of currency fluctuations.  Although this is still a huge saving on the estimated £39,000 it would cost to have the operation performed privately in the UK, someone who has saved for six months towards the originally quoted figure will be disappointed to find themselves short of their target because of exchange rates.

Similarly, the average cost of having a gastric balloon inserted abroad is an estimated £3,515.  At the start of the year, this would have cost up to £417 less at £3,098 as a result of the stronger position of Sterling at the time.

On the other hand, Sterling has performed well against the Eastern European currencies over the last six months and those undergoing procedures in Hungary, Poland or Croatia could actually find themselves saving 12%, 8% or 6% respectively compared to the beginning of the year.  For example, the average cost of having dental implants abroad is £625 - less than a quarter of the estimated UK cost of £2,700.  At the start of the year however, this would same operation could have cost up to £700.

Commenting on the findings Stephen Hughes, Director of said: "Going abroad for medical treatment is becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons, not least because of the huge savings that can be achieved.  However, the total outlay for medical treatment overseas can still be very expensive once everything is included. 

"As people tend to plan such trips a long time in advance, they need to consider the impact that currency fluctuations could have on the cost of their procedure and factor this in.  People who value the certainty of knowing what their operation will cost or need to know how much to save, should look to pay up front if they can afford it or guarantee their exchange rate for a period of time with their currency provider.  We expect Sterling to begin to strengthen in the second half of this year.  Now the Government has announced steps to reduce the deficit, we believe that Sterling will be one of the strongest performing European currencies for the rest of the year which would benefit anyone considering going abroad for medical treatment."