Do EPs' skills vary and how do you find out how good yourconsultant is? Has anyone tried getting the NHS to refer them to an EP in France?

I have so far not discovered how to access stats on EP success. I am cheered by knowing that one colleague had an ablation with my consultant and it was successful first time. But where are the stats? And how would I change consultants without incurring a huge wait for the next referral?

I've also seen an article in a French paper saying the French health service is trying to promote health tourism. Relying on their world class reputation, French hospitals are looking for business, so could the NHS refer one in France? Waiting lists are short there and prices often lower than the UK. Has anyone tried looking into this possibility?

15 Replies

  • I think the clue here is the NATIONAL health service.

  • Thank you. I've read a lot of your wise posts.

    I read this on line From The Telegraph 31 Oct 2014

    I just wondered if it might be worth a try while we're still in the EU. I'll be waiting till autumn at least for an ablation re-do procedure. I'm feeling pretty desperate at the moment. Depressed, unhappy about going out with the dizziness I'm getting, and not tolerating AADs very well.

    NHS has funded ops for more than 600 Britons overseas

    New rules that allow some UK patients to get treatment elsewhere in Europe have been utilised widely, a freedom of information request has revealed

    doctors in operating theatre, surgery

    An EU directive has cleared the path for patients from Britain to get treatment anywhere in Europe - including a private hospital Photo: Alamy

    By Alison Steed9:41AM GMT 31 Oct 2014

    More than 600 patients from the UK who have had surgery overseas including hip and knee replacements have managed to have their costs refunded by the NHS as a result of legislation that came into effect a year ago.

    The EU Directive on Cross-Border Healthcare gives patients from Britain the right to get treatment anywhere in Europe – including a private hospital – and then reclaim the cost from the NHS provided the treatment is medically necessary.

    To qualify, the patient needs to be resident in the UK – which can apply to expats who spend part of the year overseas. The rules on residence are set out at

    The rule came into force on October 25, 2013, and so far 855 patients in England have submitted claims, with 621 being successful, amounting to a total of £833,491 – an average of £1,342 per claim. The data was released by the Department for Work and Pensions as a result of a freedom of information request by Operations Abroad Worldwide.

    The move could help to reduce waiting lists and even save the NHS money as a result of the reduced cost of operations overseas. For example, the lowest cost for a hip replacement was £4,153 which was carried out in the Czech Republic, and the lowest cost for a knee replacement was £2,756 which was in France. A hip replacement in the UK would cost the NHS £5,943 or £12,500 if done in a private hospital in the UK, or just £3,970 at the SurGal Clinic, a leading private hospital in the Czech Republic.

    The patient will only be refunded the cost of the treatment as it would have been on the NHS, or the actual cost of treatment abroad – whichever is lower. They may need prior authorisation for the treatment before it goes ahead in some cases – generally where there are ongoing or complex conditions. A full list of situations where prior authorisation of treatment is necessary can be found at

    Costs will usually have to be paid upfront and then reclaimed from the NHS afterwards, and it is not possible to reclaim travel and accommodation costs associated with the trip.

    Ruth Taylor of Operations Abroad Worldwide said: “The EU Directive makes treatment in Europe a more attractive option. For those who are on NHS waiting lists and considering private treatment, having their operation in Europe means they benefit from prompt treatment and will be able to claim back their medical costs, although they will have to cover their own travel expenses.

    “While refunds are limited to the cost of an NHS operation, medical costs in Europe can be up to 80pc lower so it is possible for patients to receive treatment in a top-class private hospital for much less than it would cost the NHS. Therefore patients may also benefit from better quality care with more intensive rehabilitation and little or no risk of infection. Meanwhile the NHS benefits from cost savings and reduced waiting lists.”

    France, Germany and Poland are the most popular countries for operations according to Ms Taylor. Patients who are unsure about whether their costs would be repaid should contact the NHS. Further information is available on the individual country sites for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • In 2015 there was a feature on South East News that NHS hospitals in Kent were reducing waiting times by asking patients if they wanted to go to France for treatments and surgery.

  • I wonder in my current state if I could face the journey. But I'd like to try!

    I've now found out Operations Abroad Worldwide will organise it for you. But the travel costs are down to you

  • I have also heard of NHS patients getting referrals to Germany.

  • Our French friends investigated the cost of my mother having a hip replacement in France some years ago, and it was considerably cheaper than the UK. It didn't occur to us at the time that we might reclaim this, we were just desperately concerned as she had been totally housebound for over three years and was in constant pain. In the end we paid for her to see a consultant privately where she lives and within weeks she had it done on the NHS, by him too. In my (limited) experience the consultants I have seen are as concerned as the patients about the time waiting for treatment and just sometimes a private appointment will accelerate the process.

  • Thank you. I'm glad your mother was treated. What a relief for her and you.

    Sadly in my case I saw my consultant privately, but in spite of his concern, he insisted legally I had to wait to get on his list till the next time I saw him in the NHS... a month later. It was valuable to see him that time however. I got more info that was useful.

  • I have had the same reaction from consultants. I does though seem from this Forum that EP's are the exception!

  • Only one publishes success rates. See here:


  • Thank you Peter. I wish all consultants were so open.

  • I saw two NHS EPs about three weeks apart and they had differing views on my CHADVASC score and whether or not I should take an anticoagulant. One of the EPs carries out ablations but said that he wouldn't have it done! The other EP relied on his specialist nurse to diagnose the AF and recommend medication. I only saw him - with difficulty hence the appointment with the second EP - after a paper was being written about the side effect of AF medication that he had prescribed for me but never monitored. Chalk and cheese.

  • Thank you for your reply which is very helpful! It's very difficult to decide whether to go with the Consultant the NHS lottery throws up, who in my case seems OK, though I have some reservations. But he has a very wonderful Arrhythmia nurse. On the other hand I could try elsewhere, (Barts and the London are tempting but not on our CCG patch). The risk is a longer wait. You could end up with someone even better, or someone who may come up with the same opinion as the first consultant. Obviously there's a lot of difference going by your experience.

    By the way which medication was he suggesting?

  • The medication the first EP prescribed was Dronedarone. He passed my monitoring to my GP without following the hand-over procedure that you will find online. I developed a dry non-productive cough that he wrote in an email would go in about three weeks. In a matter of days I developed a mass in my right lung that was incorrectly diagnosed as pneumonia. On the second admission to hospital a short time later I had AF and, I was given Amiodarone by IV. That caused a mass in the left lung (I still had a mass in the right lung) and I was admitted to hospital a third time and correctly diagnosed as (pulmonary toxicity) cryptogenic organising pneumonia secondary to Dronedarone and Amiodarone, with blood oxygen (SpO2) in the low 70's. I had to argue strongly to stop them from ringing my wife at 1:15 a.m., sedating me and placing me on respiration in Intensive Care. After I left hospital I couldn't get an appointment with that EP. A kind person in the AF Association put me in touch with a Cardiac Practitioner Sister who arranged an appointment with the second EP. The first EP then became available and to be fair, was pleasant and gave me a detailed analysis of the print out from the Bruce Protocol test.

  • Sounds as if you had a tough time. Hope things are improving now.

    Best wishes,


  • Hi Janet;

    thank you for your good wishes. The first EP said I was low risk and that I shouldn't take an anticoagulant as I was a bleed risk; I was also a gym bunny with a metabolic age fifteen years younger than my real age. In July last year I had a full stroke that I've recovered from apart from losing my sight on the right hand side, and that in turn has meant that my driving licence is rescinded. However, I'm Secretary of a voluntary nature conservation group and, I featured in a video on anticoagulation that is currently available to clinicians in the UK and USA so that hopefully fewer people with AF will have strokes. I'm inspired by Paraolympians and the Invictus Game athletes. I have a great life which I appreciate thanks to my wonderful wife (48th wedding anniversary this month) and, my ex yoga teacher. I'm back in the gym and, after the nesting season I'll be back clearing scrub in the local nature reserve. My ex yoga teacher says that we have hundreds of lifetimes. That may be so, but I'm still going to enjoy this one.


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