'We flew into Frankfurt and were treated like royalty. The next day I had my operation'
Thursday 20 December 2007
The triple bypass
William Budge, 82, retired farmer from Barnstaple, North Devon
I had severe pain in my right arm a couple of years ago. Doctors first said it was just arthritis. But when I then had severe pain across my chest, I was told that I needed a triple bypass. I was told that I needed to have it within three months, or else I wouldn't survive. At the same time, I was told the waiting list was a minimum of six months. In effect, I was condemned to die. After a chance meeting with a lady in a hospital car park, I was told that I could get the operation done overseas. Very soon, I arranged to have it done in Germany. We flew into Frankfurt, were met by a hospital liaison officer and were treated like royalty. The very next day I had my operation. The German doctors said they wouldn't accept the British doctor's diagnosis, and said that in fact it was a lot moreserious and urgent than I had been told. After the operation, I had to stay in the hospital for a few weeks to aid my recovery, my age was a factor in this. Overall my treatment in the hospital was just brilliant: the cleanliness was unbelievable, the staff were polite, and the actual medical treatment was effective. In England I was told that the operation would cost a minimum of 20,000, but could cost up to 40,000. The whole package for treatment in Germany cost only 15,000. I'd recommend the overseas treatment to anyone.
Ronald Burlingham, 76, retired teacher from Southampton
Half way through last year, I realised my hip was simply worn out from years of jogging on hard surfaces. I had been limping about, so went to my doctor for an X-ray and diagnosis.
Initially I explored NHS options and was told it would be three or four months before a consultant could see me, let alone put me on a waiting list. But my wife and I thought to ourselves, we're not getting any younger, and should therefore look at private health care something we'd have never considered before.
I soon discovered a company called Direct Healthcare International. They were polite and helpful, giving me a lot of information about where I could go and what I could do. They recommended particular places based in a number of countries, based on their record of success, and showed me the CVs of the doctors who would treat me.
I flew to Brussels, had a totally successful operation, and the whole package, including flights and accommodation, cost me 7,000. In the UK, the operation alone would have cost 10,000. What's more I was given a week of physio in Brussels, and my wife was allowed to accompany me throughout. The thought of private health care was anathema to me for a long time. But when you're forced into it, and you're then thinking about whether or not to stay in the UK, if you're saving 3,000 then the argument is over before it's even begun.
Direct Healthcare International were so good they even rang me up to tell me they'd overcharged me for my flight to Brussels, and sent me a case of wine in recompense.
Lynne Huckins, 56, Community Support Officer, Portland, Dorset
I had major trouble with my gums, and my dentist said he would have to take all my teeth out. I was quoted figures ranging between 10,000 and 15,000.
On the internet, I read about Vital Europe, the firm I eventually went to Hungary with. They said I could have a 50 consultation in Harley Street to diagnose my gums, but I'd get the 50 back if I had the treatment.
The consultation, unlike the NHS, was very positive: I was told caps and bridges would do the trick. I was given a dental plan, paid 6,000, and went to Hungary twice; first for 10 days and then, six months later, for a fortnight. I was given a personal co-ordinator, and the cost covered all travel, hotel bookings, and transport.
The end result is absolutely fantastic. My health and peace of mind has improved massively. I don't blame the NHS for not treating me, because they haven't got the funds. But for anyone going private, I'd say look overseas first.
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