Betty's story inspires pensioners

THE story of a pensioner whose life was transformed after she underwent a double knee replacement abroad has spurred on scores of elderly people to consider doing the same, it has emerged.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE story of a pensioner whose life was transformed after she underwent a double knee replacement abroad has spurred on scores of elderly people to consider doing the same, it has emerged.

Betty Tupman, 78, re-mortgaged her Felixstowe home to pay for surgery in Malta because she had waited more than two years on the NHS.

The former Metropolitan police officer said she was initially refused the operation at Ipswich Hospital because doctors told her she was overweight and was still waiting, even when she had lost four stone.


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The pensioner, who worked as a further education lecturer before retiring, contacted Lancashire-based firm Operations Abroad, which arranges medical tourism packages abroad.

The entire visit cost less than £15,000 and included travel for her and her friend, accommodation in a four star hotel, airport transfers and the double knee replacement itself.

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Last night Operations Abroad revealed how it had been inundated with enquiries from the East Anglia area since Ms Tupman's story was published in the East Anglian Daily Times.

Suzanne Fallon-de Vares, director of the company, said: “We've had 20-plus people contact us so far. We're still getting enquiries by email and phone calls.

“They're mostly about knee and hips, orthopaedic surgery. It's fantastic from a business point of view and also to know what Betty has been through is going to help other people.

“As soon as they read about some else it the paper, it gives people confidence. They don't have to wait on the NHS.”

The family-run company, which was set up in 2002, sends two or three people abroad for surgery every week.

“If somebody enquires, we send out brochures and DVDs of the hospitals we represent. All the hospitals we work with are MRSA free. We've had a 100% success rate,” added Mrs Fallon-de Vares.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health urged people to think extremely carefully before seeking treatment abroad.

“We would stress waiting lists are at their lowest level ever. The average wait is now 18 weeks. There should be no need to go abroad,” she said.

“If individuals want to go private, it's their decision. It's up to the individual to check out hospitals abroad.

“Every country in Europe has their own way of regulating hospitals and ensuring a sufficient standard.

“That's another reason why we would tell people to think extremely hard before going abroad.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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