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Visiting Hospital In Malta; Sun, Sea And Surgery

Jan 12, 2008
Malta as part of the British Empire was a strategic naval outpost in the Mediterranean Sea. For many years it provided hospital services to sailors in the Royal Navy and helped ensure that British supremacy in the Mediterranean sphere of influence was upheld. Today this long tradition of British hospital patients in Malta is returning; as medical tourism increasingly becomes an option for British citizens.

Medical tourism is not a new idea; the ancient Greeks visited a territory called Epidauria; fabled as the sanctuary of Askelepios, the healing god. The spa towns dotted all over Europe can also be seen as early examples of the medical tourism industry. The industry has become popular of late and in Malta, hospital executives are trying to cash in on the global increase in medical tourists.

The reason medical tourism is experiencing a global increase is due to the lengthy waiting lists and expense of private medical care in developed industrial nations. Malta especially, is targeting British nationals due to the island's close ties with the UK. As English is the second language in Malta, hospital staffs are expected to provide exceptional medical care to visiting patients.

Operations that are expected to be carried out were originally limited to cosmetic surgery. Hospital executives in Malta are keen to dispel this image of purely cosmetic work in order to infiltrate the huge market of joint replacements and dental surgery. Currently the waiting time for a hip replacement in a UK hospital can be as much as eighteen months; it is believed in Malta this period is a matter of weeks.

Hospital staffs in Malta are trying to carve out a niche in an already swollen market. India, Bangkok and Hong Kong are established players in the medical tourism industry with visitors coming from a number of industrialised nations. Malta will be hard pushed to take business away from these well thought of nations, as they have built a reputation upon good service and successful operations.

The National Health Service waiting lists are still high for such routine operations as joint replacements and for those waiting, life can be painful and mobility can be a constant struggle. The speed and efficiency of hospital services in Malta offer a valid alternative for those who simply cannot wait. As well as joint replacement operations dental hospitals in Malta will also experience an influx of patients as the costs of major dental work have reached an all time high in the UK.

With Malta being a short three hour flight from the UK hospital staff are sure to be busy. For some the lure of shorter waiting times will be great; twinned with the chance to recuperate in the warm Mediterranean sun, patients will be enticed in large numbers. The opportunity to holiday in Malta around operations will surely bolster the tourist industry in Malta during the off season.

As a result of this, Malta has announced a twenty million pound investment to further promote and develop hospital services on the island. This investment will see a rise in visitor numbers and with hospital equipment updated should also result in accreditation for medical services by official foreign bodies. As Malta sits in fifth position in the World Health Organisation's list of health care systems this search for official accreditation should not pose any major difficulties.

International accreditation for Maltese hospital services will bring increasing numbers of medical tourists to the island. As waiting times and the cost of private medical care skyrocket in industrialised nations this is surely an astute move by hospital executives. As long as operations are successful there is no reason why medical tourism should not become a major element of the economy in Malta.
About the Author
Medical expert Shaun Parker looks into the growing number of people visiting a hospital in Malta for surgery. To find out more please visit http://www.medical-treatment-overseas.co.uk/
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