Cosmetic surgery tourism is once again in the news, with the launch this month of a research project based at Leeds University aimed at investigating the drivers for cosmetic surgery tourism and its impact upon an emerging globalised system of healthcare.
It has long been known that patients seeking a variety of cosmetic surgery procedures including face lifts, breast enlargement, breast reduction, liposuction and tummy tucks are attracted by lower prices and a holiday-type experience.
There is no shortage of web sites ready to arrange a package-deal of treatment abroad and the cosmetic surgery tourism industry is now estimated to be worth around £900m per year.
In 2009 a joint meeting of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and the European Association of Societies of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (EASAPS) heard that in a poll nearly half of all members of the public stated that they had considered undergoing cosmetic surgery, and of those 97% stated that they would consider having the treatment abroad.
However, many patients forget that not all overseas facilities are subject to the same quality controls that exist in the UK, nor are the surgeons always trained to the standard of plastic surgeons at home. When things go wrong there may be limited access to the treating surgeon and it often the case that the NHS is left to pick up the pieces. It is also interesting to consider what jurisdictional difficulties might arise when attempting to bring a claim in negligence.
Devon based clinical negligence and medical tourism lawyer Laurence Vick and Christopher Stone will both be speaking at a forthcoming medical tourism stakeholder conference in Leeds on June 24 2013.