Information for patients considering privately funded treatment abroad

Medical treatment abroad, (sometimes called medical tourism) is available to those who wish to privately fund their own treatment.  This general guidance sets out the points that should be considered prior to committing to agreeing to any clinical treatments with an overseas provider.  This guidance highlights the requirement to ensure that all post operative/treatment aftercare is fully included within the treatment plan, as this is something that may not be routinely funded or offered by the NHS.

When considering having medical treatment abroad (sometimes called medical tourism), it is important to be fully informed with as much information as possible about the services and treatment being offered. This includes finding out what post-operative treatment and follow-up care will be needed, and how to organise or access that if it is not going to be provided during your trip. Please do ensure you have investigated this before making your final decision or any commitment with the private provider to proceed.

Travelling abroad for elective surgery may lead to an increased risk of complications to health. These may have financial consequences as well, and the patient may have little or no recourse to address these, other than pursuing additional treatment at their own expense.

There are many types of elective surgical procedures offered by private providers around the world, including, bariatric, cosmetic surgeries and dental care. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with medical tourism as the standard of medical facilities, clinician qualifications and treatments can vary widely, and clinical standards may not be as strict as UK regulations.

Any privately funded arrangement which is agreed between a patient and a healthcare provider is a commercial matter between those parties.

Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care Board (N&W ICB) and NHS care providers such as GP practices are not party to those arrangements and cannot take any responsibility for the terms of the agreement, its performance or the consequences for the patient or the treatment.

Seeking elective treatment abroad will necessitate a financial commitment for all surgical treatments and any follow up care for example medications, wound care, dressings, blood tests follow up consultations etc.


Travellers should speak directly to the health professional undertaking the planned treatment before travel and check their qualifications and references independently.

  • Medical advice from a travel agent or administrator is unacceptable..
  • Clear written information should be provided regarding the procedure undertaken and any follow up care.
  • Agree how all medical notes will be exchanged and transferred.

Bariatric Surgery Abroad

The Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care Board (N&W ICB) has clearly defined clinical pathways to support patients who are overweight or obese and are seeking to improve their health with weight loss.

The pathways include specialist dietary advice and support programmes at ranging levels based on the individual patient needs.

Patients who have completed NW ICB weight management pathways may be eligible for NHS funded bariatric surgery.  This surgery is provided at a specialist bariatric NHS Provider.

Surgical procedures such as Bariatric surgery will require a package of long term follow up monitoring and initially a requirement to be followed up regularly by the bariatric specialist provider for a minimum of two years. 

Aftercare for patients who have self-funded bariatric surgery is not routinely commissioned by Norfolk & Waveney ICB within the NHS locally and is not available from GP surgeries.

Elective Surgery – Planning the journey home

There will be a requirement to rest post operatively, the specialist who is treating you should provide clear advice regarding:

  • The duration of time to recover post-operatively.
  • How many days or weeks before you are safe to fly home.
  • What follow-up care is in place for you.

NB: Air travel may increase the risk of a blood clot such as Deep Vein Thrombosis which can be life threatening.

Eligibility for Treatment Overseas

The S2 route may entitle you to funding for planned state healthcare treatment in an EU country or Switzerland, further information can be found via The S2 funding route – NHS (

Applications must be submitted by the patient to the NHS England European Team using the application form available on the NHS Choices website:  

Enquiries can be addressed to:

Patients can apply for treatment in the EU however this would require approval prior to any elective treatment or therapies and must meet N&W ICB clinical criteria. 

Eligibility for Aftercare

Whatever treatment you have had overseas or in the private sector, you will always be entitled for emergency care under the NHS, and you will still be able to have standard health care provided just like anybody else, but you may not be able to access any NHS funded specialist aftercare. If anything goes wrong, you are also unlikely to be able to claim on your travel insurance unless the purpose of your visit was declared prior to travel.  You will need to check with your individual insurance provider to confirm what financial renumeration is available to you.

Patients will be eligible for NHS aftercare when surgery or a procedure abroad has been approved and funded by the NHS beforehand.

Patients who have had surgery as a private patient and would have been entitled to the same treatment on the NHS – Eligibility for aftercare would be dependent if the aftercare requested is same as available on the NHS.

Patients who have had surgery or procedure as a private patient and would not have been entitled to the same treatment on the NHS, will not be eligible for any NHS aftercare.  Aftercare should have been purchased as a full package of care including pre-op and aftercare.

Note: Health care professionals should always be consulted where there are any health concerns