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India can earn $1 billion from medical tourism
Shyam Bhatia in London |
December 06, 2003 17:15 IST
India could earn more than $1 billion annually and create 40 million new jobs by sub-contracting work from the British National Health Service, the head of India's largest chain of private hospitals told rediff.com.
Houston-trained Dr Prathap C Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals, also said he was waiting for a reply to his proposal to carry out operations at a fraction of what they would cost in the United Kingdom.
Details of the multi-million dollar package are also carried in this week's edition of India Abroad.
They include surgery for hip and knee replacements and coronary bypass that would slash waiting times dramatically, reducing the queues of British patients waiting to see their doctors.
"We have well equipped, state-of-the-art hospitals and we can offer the same level of care as anywhere else in the world," Dr Reddy said.
"There is no reason why we should not become the healthcare destination of the world."
India's healthcare industry is growing at 30 per cent annually and the Apollo group alone has so far treated 95,000 international patients, many of whom are of Indian origin.
Reddy cited two recent cases of UK nationals who opted for private healthcare at the Apollo network. One of them -- Cyril Parry, a 50-year-old man from Birmingham -- successfully underwent hip replacement surgery at Apollo, Chennai. The other -- Buckingham Palace employee Elaine Ackrill -- was also treated at the Chennai Apollo for cancer of the uterine cervix.
Medical treatment in the UK is free under the NHS, but because of the long waiting times some patients opt for expensive private care. The advantage of Reddy's offer is that is that it would reduce pressure on the NHS and offer sub-contracted healthcare at vastly cheaper rates.
Earlier this year, Apollo was represented at a London meeting that was also attended by a UK government health adviser and private healthcare providers from South Africa, Australia, India and the UK.
The consensus at the London meeting was that the UK needed consultants and registrars to come over on short-term contracts before returning to their home countries.
The Apollo team responded with a counter offer of a medical tourism package that would cut waiting times for surgery in the UK.
"They have a one million waiting list for all kinds of things, especially orthopaedic surgery," explained an Apollo spokesman.
"After this million people, there are thousands of expatriates. Not necessarily Indian, but expatriates who may be given the opportunity to come and get themselves operated in India where we are planning to give them what is called health tourism."
"The orthopaedic surgery we are offering is mainly knee and hip replacement. I can't tell you how many are involved, but they have done a pilot study and given various break-ups."