Medical tourism is now an established feature of the international healthcare landscape and is a burgeoning commercial industry attracting increasing numbers of people willing to fund their own treatment overseas. Although medical tourism spans the full spectrum of health services, most travel is restricted to a limited range of medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery, dental procedures, orthopedic surgery, cardiac surgery, fertility treatment, and organ and cellular transplantation [1,2].
Currently, there are no precise figures available on the numbers of UK medical tourists, although it has been estimated that approximately 50,000 patients fund their own travel and treatment overseas each year [3,4]. Research has not kept up to date with the apparent growth of medical tourism, but discussion and some evidence on the quality, processes and outcomes of particular treatments are beginning to emerge, including fertility services [5–7], cosmetic treatments [8,9] and knee surgery . The UK media attention has focused on the poor management, organization and delivery of healthcare provided to medical tourists abroad. In particular, recent coverage has considered the implications that can arise from accessing treatment overseas for both individuals receiving treatment and the UK National Health Service (NHS), which has to accept the cost of addressing any complications arising from poor quality of care delivered by overseas providers .