Intended for healthcare professionals


Health tourism

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 09 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:60
  1. Edwin Borman, consultant anaesthetist
  1. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry CV2 2DX

    Where healthcare, ethics, and the state collide

    No one should condone any fraudulent use of the NHS. However, following a consultation focused on the need to close perceived “loop-holes that are open to abuse” by “health tourists,” the government's announcement of its response also raised fundamental concerns regarding the balance between the potential responsibilities of doctors as employees and their ethical responsibilities to their patients.1 Questions have also been asked regarding the actual extent of the problem of “health tourism.” To date no serious quantitative study seems to have been made of this issue. The only figures available are anecdotal or based on extrapolation, and they vary considerably around the country. Further concerns relate to the applicability of suggested solutions and the public health implications of some of these.

    Other than in the case of certain exemptions, specific regulations require NHS trusts to charge for health care …

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