Norway air package is Lothians' first for 'health tourists'
A NEW project will fly health tourists from Edinburgh to Norway for cheaper and faster care.
It is the first example of a specific "medical tourism" package for Lothians residents and has been launched after the success of a similar scheme in London.
Local people will now be able to book cheap flights to the Norwegian area of Haugesund and book a private treatment as part of a single package.
Organisers of the scheme say treatment in Norway is less expensive than private care in the UK – in some cases by up to 50 per cent – and there are no waiting lists.
The price and nature of the treatment is agreed before embarking on the 90-minute flight and English is spoken fluently by everyone involved in the process, avoiding any confusion over translation.
What's more, rates of superbugs such as MRSA are significantly lower in Norway.
Kjell Gunnar Gunderson, an eye surgeon who works with Scanhealth, said travelling to another country need not add much time on to the treatment patients would receive in their home country.
"The new direct link from Edinburgh means that medical tourists from Scotland for the first time will have access to high quality private health care at surprisingly low cost," he said.
"People could arrive here from Scotland, be treated that day then return home on the next flight."
The official opening of the link took place on Saturday and involves a low-cost Ryanair flight from the Capital's airport. As well as eye surgery, there is urology, cosmetic, orthopaedic and general surgery for those with hip, knee and shoulder complaints.
The option of IVF treatment at the Fertility Centre is also available, costing 1,800. Last year 100 couples travelled from London to take advantage of the offer.
Dr Leif Aalvik, who specialises in radiology, added: "This has been very popular with people in London, and it is those who are earning normal money, not just for the rich. I think if people do not want to wait (for treatment] they will have a very good chance when they come to us.
"They can stay in a nice flat or hotel, and return straight home with documents in English and images on a CD they can then use with their own doctor.
"The level of healthcare in Norway is as high, if not higher, than in the UK, and I think this will be a good option for many people in Edinburgh."
It will also present a good holiday opportunity for some, with the hospital being situated in one of Europe's most scenic regions.
Tore Gautesen, managing director for Visit Haugesund, said: "Just a 90-minute flight from Edinburgh there is the chance to discover one of the most beautiful coastal areas of Norway.
"We offer exciting events and activities for conferences and seminars, not to mention the vibrant culture of the town of Haugesund and the majestic fjords."
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