Do concerns about MRSA and hospital infection drive patients abroad?

Medical tourists who travel abroad for treatment, don't just do it to save money. In our soon to be published "Medical Tourism Survey", 56% of the respondents who went for elective surgery abroad said that worries about the risk of MRSA/hospital infection in NHS hospitals were a "Very Important" or "Quite Important" factor.

According to the Health Protection Agency's latest data, there was an 18 per cent drop in cases of MRSA in England from July to September compared to the previous quarter (April to June). This is a drop of about 230 cases per quarter. however, there were still 1,072 cases reported in England during July to September 2007 .

The latest C. difficile figures show that there were 10,734 cases in patients aged 65 years and over in England, reported in the third quarter of 2007. This is a 21% decrease on the previous quarter. In patients between 2 and 64 years of age, 2,496 C. difficile cases were reported in the third quarter of 2007.

So.... there is some indication that the NHS is having some success in improving its poor reputation for hospital infection. But there's an awfully long way to go. The UK is way behind countries such as Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Spain in controlling MRSA and hospital infection rates. (See MRSA statistics in UK and Europe).

Until the NHS can reduce hospital infection rates to a minimal level, patient concerns will continue to be a factor in why people choose treatment in private hospitals in the UK or treatment abroad.