Britons fly east for discount dentistry

by David Smith and Lisa Bachelor ,  The Guardian UK | 2008-03-23

A Polish city is bidding to become the latest destination to cash in on the booming medical tourism industry. Lodz - pronounced 'Woodge' - is 80 miles south-west of Warsaw and the second biggest city in Poland. It is short of tourist attractions and the city's own website admits: 'For decades, Lodz was regarded by many as nothing more than a boring city of factory chimneys.'

But it is seeking to reinvent itself as a medical and cosmetic treatment centre that can undercut British prices by 60 to 80 per cent. Lodz hopes a windfall in subsidies and grants since the country joined the European Union, allowing people to invest in training and buy modern equipment. Lodz hopes that direct flights to the city on a budget airline will help it to challenge Budapest in the increasingly fierce competition for bargain-hunting British patients.

About 100,000 people went abroad for medical treatment last year, up from 70,000 in 2006, according to a survey conducted by internet agency Treatment Abroad. More than 40 per cent were seeking dental care and the most popular destination by far was Hungary.

But a report from Which? last week warned people to be wary before heading overseas for medical treatment. It says almost one in five of those who do so have run into problems. They include a 'tummy tuck' going septic and a liposuction going badly wrong. Eight per cent needed emergency NHS help.

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