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Surgeons at work at Phuket International Hospital

Phuket Takes on Aussie Doctors in Surgery Wars

Thursday, May 27, 2010
WAR has broken out in Australia over plastic surgery and dental holidays on Phuket. The unexpected involvement of Australia's leading medical lobby group comes amid an intense battle for the hearts, minds, breasts and tummy tucks of thousands seeking corrective procedures.

It's scalpels at 20 paces as surgeons with seemingly similar standards and qualifications duel for business, but at vastly different prices.

Leading lobby group the Australian Medical Association on Wednesday urged people to be cautious after a new business, CosMediTour, launched on Australia's Gold Coast to offer "cosmetic plastic surgery and dental holidays in Phuket".

The company, run by Christyna Kruczaj and Greg Lemon, takes groups from the Australian state of Queensland direct to Phuket, where the surgery or dental work is done.

Ms Kruczaj told the 'Gold Coast Bulletin' newspaper that the tours offered world-class medical facilities at a fraction of the usual cost. Patients recover in five-star resorts, with the opportunity to travel, she said.

But AMA Vice President Steve Hambleton said holidays and surgery should not mix. He also said the cost savings should be weighed up against increased risk and a lack of recourse should something go wrong.

''If you go overseas, you don't have the sort of (doctor) registration systems that we have in this country and we know that our training is excellent and our doctors' standards are excellent, '' Mr Hambleton told Australian Associated Press.

Spokesmen for two of Phuket's best hospitals, Phuket International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket, have told Phuketwan that standards of surgery on Phuket are equal to or perhaps even better than those in Australia. A growing number of people who normally can only expect or afford care at day clinics in Australia are coming to Phuket for hospital treatment.

Ms Kruczaj said while prices varied depending on surgery type and by person, packages would cost 20 to 40 percent less than having the equivalent procedure in Australia.

A breast enlargement, for example, would cost $6500 Australian in Thailand while the same procedure costs more than $10,000 in Australia.

''All of our surgeons are accredited plastic surgeons and the Thai accreditation is based on the US system of plastic and reconstructive surgery,'' Ms Kruczaj said.

She said patients only paid for an initial consult, flights and accommodation before leaving Australia and they could opt out of their surgery in Thailand without financial penalty.

Doctors on Phuket acknowledge that after-care is more difficult once a patient has returned home, but they say this is always taken into consideration.

Dentists in Australia also lobby their potential patients periodically to prevent losing customers to Phuket.

Medical tourism is fast becoming one of Asia's biggest industries, with more than 1.3 million people visiting locations each year, including Phuket.

More than 150 people are expected to attend next week's launch on the Gold Coast of the new tour packages. Phuket doctor Sanguan Kunaporn will speak, along with Australian Peter Davidson of Phuket International Hospital, where Dr Sanguan is based.

''Australians, especially Queenslanders from the Gold and Sunshine coasts, are leading the drive for medical tourism in Thailand,'' Mr Davidson told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Among the feedback to the article was the following:

"As a former Gold Coaster now living in Phuket, I have checked out the Phuket International Hospital, and it is as good as, if not better, than any Aussie hospital. The surgeons are world-class, the rooms would put the average five-star hotel to shame, everyone speaks English, and yes, they do have an 'after-care' service back in Oz for the rare event that something goes wrong. The procedure (including airfares and accommodation) about one third of the cost, but you get a free tropical holiday." - Phil T
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Thailand also leads the world in male organ reattachment. So why not turn a tragic experience into a fun-filled memory for a fraction of the price?

Posted by Cat on May 27, 2010 10:10


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