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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Call to address “surgery tourism”

4 December, 2008  

Plastic surgeons have warned that a burden is being placed on the NHS with patient safety being threatened by the growing popularity of “cosmetic surgery tourism”.

The health service is being increasingly relied upon to “patch up” patients when surgery performed outside the UK goes wrong, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) said.

The Government has now been urged by the association to clarify whether the NHS should offer free treatment to people who run into such problems.

More than 200 patients went to the NHS last year with complications after having cosmetic surgery abroad, a BAPRAS survey found. Around three quarters of those required treatment, and nearly a quarter of BAPRAS members (23%) said they treated such patients.

Association spokesman Hamish Laing commented: “Our members say an increasing number of patients are going abroad for ‘cosmetic surgery tourism’ and coming back and some of them are running into problems, which they are presenting to NHS clinics and accident and emergency departments.

“The NHS is underwriting cut-price surgery abroad and we think that’s not right.”

The most common operations leading to trouble were breast enlargements and reductions, and tummy tucks, he said.

Copyright Press Association 2008

British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons