Major Medical Tourism Study Published

Laurence Vick, Head of the Michelmores' Clinical Negligence team, has recently been an advisor to the Government-funded research panel on the implications for the NHS of inward and outward medical tourism. Laurence is regarded as an authority on the legal implications of medical tourism.

Laurence commented, "A key concern is the potential for clinics to attempt to evade liability, and divert the blame to the surgeons.

Medical clinics are normally liable for the failings of their employees, including surgeons. A clinic is usually responsible for advertising and arranging a patient's treatment and the patient's contract will be with the clinic. It is therefore the responsibility of the clinic to pursue litigation against a surgeon if it so wishes."

Even if the surgeon is registered with the GMC in the UK, his or her indemnity cover (with the Medical Defence Union or Medical Protection Society in the UK) is unlikely to cover treatment undertaken outside the UK."

The University of York-led medical tourism study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, has now published the full report, with key findings being that:

  • Inward medical travel to the UK usually consists of expatriates or those from nations with historical ties with the UK
  • The lack of regulation in the industry means that medical travellers can be exposed to serious risks
  • Cost is rarely the sole motivator behind decisions to travel in search of treatments

Laurence is delivering a talk on medical tourism for the Devon & Somerset Medico-Legal Association at Sandy Park Conference Centre on February 11 2014.