British health economists' calculations have revealed that the government could save tens of millions of pounds and slash the waiting lists if some National Health Service (NHS) patients were treated in India.
Thousands of patients waiting for operations such as hip replacements and hernia repairs could be treated more cheaply and quickly if the Government set up formal agreements with countries such as India, The Independent reports.
Health experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore have been exploring the potential for bilateral agreements to trade health services between the UK and India.
Their preliminary findings from the year-long study suggest a two-way agreement would benefit both countries while alleviating many of the concerns about medical tourism.
According to the report, at least 120 million pounds could be saved if NHS patients currently waiting for just five different operations went to India, with a companion, for treatment in an accredited hospital.
A two-way agreement would make it easier to guarantee high-quality treatment, good follow-up care and deal with malpractice or clinical negligence.
It could also help to counter the brain-drain from India as health professionals may choose to stay if given better conditions and higher salaries in international hospitals.
English is universally spoken among educated Indians and the health and education systems share many similarities.
And Britons are used to Indian doctors. These factors could make India an acceptable destination for some people awaiting NHS treatment.
Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide already travel abroad to buy quicker, cheaper or better healthcare.
Many Britons travel abroad for dental care, plastic surgery, IVF and organ transplants.