Laurence Vick
Posted on 10 Feb 2014

Major Medical Tourism Study Published

Implications for the NHS of inward and outward medical tourism: a policy and economic analysis using literature review and mixed-methods approaches

Neil Lunt, Richard D Smith, Russell Mannion, Stephen T Green, Mark Exworthy, Johanna Hanefeld, Daniel Horsfall, Laura Machin and Hannah King

The University of York-led medical tourism study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, has published its report.

Michelmores' Laurence Vick, regarded as an authority on the legal implications of medical tourism, was an adviser to the research panel. His submission can be read at Appendix 17, with discussion in Chapter 6, under Legal Redress.

Key amongst the report's findings are 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 also quoted in the report warning of the potential for clinics to attempt to evade liability:

'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.

'As Vick states: ‘despite offering the package of care to the patient clinics may seek to divert blame to surgeons with whom the patient had no contract'. Even if the surgeon is registered with the GMC in the UK, his or her indemnity cover [with the Medical Defence Union (MDU) or Medical Protection Society (MPS) in the UK] is unlikely to cover treatment undertaken outside the UK.'

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