Portugal has long been a favourite destination for UK holidaymakers, with its sun, sand and legendary surf enough to attract throngs of visitors to its shores. But now there’s another reason to visit the country: medical tourism.
Portugal’s foray into medical tourism is not just an endeavour of the private industry—the government has made medical tourism a top priority, establishing a multi-sector task force working alongside the health and economy ministries, as well as the private sector, to establish rules and regulations for the medical tourism industry.
The private sector has long prepared for it by establishing international patient services in top private hospitals and enabling communication support (about 30 percent of medical personnel in Portugal speak English) and insurance liaisons for foreign clients.
Prior to launching itself onto the medical tourism stage Portugal already boasted life expectancy higher than the European average and a neonatal mortality rate lower than the continent’s average. The ratio of doctors to patients is equally impressive—Portugal boasts 4.4 doctors for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared to the U.K.’s 2.8 doctors per 1,000 patients or Europe’s 3.4 per 1,000 average.
But Why Portugal?
With the medical tourism field booming, and with tons of exotic, beautiful locales that double as options for your needed procedure, it’s natural to wonder, why Portugal of all places?
In Portugal, the Health sector is prominent and fast-evolving, developing significantly over the last few decades. Today, its healthcare system is high-quality, equipment is the most modern, and a national regulatory organisation regularly assesses facilities.
The country also has a vibrant and innovative Research & Development ecosystem, characterised by the presence of world-class institutions and scientists in areas such as neurosciences, cancer, immunology, regenerative medicine and nanomedicine. This on top of the country’s state-of-the-art facilities and highly-qualified workforce.
In terms of products and services, Portugal is internationally recognised as a supplier of high-quality pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other technologies. In fact, Portuguese companies have been exporting such goods to highly demanding and exacting markets like Germany, France, the U.K., Spain, Belgium and the USA for many years.
Portugal’s health tourism prices are competitive, and of course the post-procedure options for rest, relaxation and recuperation are second to none.
Ophthalmology in Portugal has advanced significantly in recent years. The country’s hospitals and medical facilities offer state-of-the-art technology with multidisciplinary teams that have specialisations in all areas of eye care.
If you’re seeking medical care for retina issues, glaucoma, cataract and refractive surgery, paediatric ophthalmology, orbit or oculoplastic, then Portugal is the place for you.
Ophthalmologists in Portugal have excellent training and are consistently found to be among the best in the European Board of Ophthalmology Exam.
Hospitals in Portugal contain every necessary resource for effective diagnosis and treatment for all types of cancer.
State-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment and palliative care are all provided, according to a multidisciplinary approach of a comprehensive cancer centre.
If you need radiotherapy, Portugal has linear accelerators with the potential to perform image-guided single-dose radiotherapy, as well as IMRT (Intensity-modulated radiation therapy).
You can also seek brachytherapy (radiation therapy), intraoperative brachytherapy in low-risk breast cancer, and Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery for injuries of the central nervous system.
Surgical treatment is performed by highly differentiated, internationally known surgeons in technologically advanced operation theatres, including operating rooms prepared for minimally invasive surgery and robot-assisted surgery.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Hospitals in Portugal are prepared to support women throughout their adult lives through a comprehensive, high quality and patient-centred approach to women’s health.
The country boasts very good neonatal health indicators, owing to its highly trained obstetric assistants during pregnancy and childbirth.
Gynaecological services offer a complete surveillance of women’s health at all stages of their lives, including oncological disease screening and menopause surveillance. Expert surgeons perform conventional, hysteroscopic and laparoscopic gynaecological surgery.
Assisted Reproductive Technology
Treatment for fertility issues can be prohibitively expensive in the UK, which can cause those seeking to conceive to turn elsewhere.
In Portugal, state-of-the-art facilities offer diagnosis, fertility tests, full couples’ studies, medical-surgical therapies and assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges facing us today, and sometimes more than a change of lifestyle is required. Studies have found that surgical treatment for obesity results in the significant improvement of quality of life in 98 percent of patients.
Top surgical teams in Portugal have extensive experience in all surgical procedures currently recommended for the treatment of obesity, including minimally invasive surgery by laparoscopy and robot-assisted surgery.
Outside of surgery, medical professionals in Portugal can offer a range of care with regard to obesity including family medicine, nutrition, clinical psychology, internal medicine, endocrinology and gastroenterology.
Portugal offers the best of the best in plastic and reconstructive surgery. The medical sector in the country has recognised that cosmetic surgery has acquired a growing relevancy in the Western world, and it has dedicated its resources to the field accordingly.
Patients seeking cosmetic surgery in Portugal will find highly trained doctors who can perform a variety of procedures with top-of-the-line equipment.
Beyond your scheduled appointment, patients will find 24/7 care when necessary to support them through their procedures.
Brexit? No Worry
Amid the U.K.’s uncertainty with Brexit, Portugal has seized the moment to offer British citizens something concrete. Turismo de Portugal’s London office announced recently, “Following the uncertainty and the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the Portuguese government has prepared a contingency plan to avoid, as far as possible, disruption for British travellers to our country.”
After the U.K. leaves the EU, the European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) held by British travellers will cease to be valid, but Portugal has stated that UK visitors will still qualify for emergency medical treatment.
Anything more than emergency medical treatment will have to be covered, as would have always been the case, but with this announcement like this, British travellers can be certain that Portugal will still have a warm welcome for them—either for medical reasons or just for a holiday.