Medical tourism from the UK to Poland: how the market masks migration

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Much medical travel happens, but it is misleading to label it as ‘medical tourism’. Rather, patterns of travel reflect a range of drivers: from longstanding cultural, economic and political ties to the country providing treatment, to word-of-mouth networks. Poland provides a particularly interesting case, as it has been touted as the leading medical tourism destination for UK medical travellers in Europe; marketing by Polish providers is advanced and there is strong government support for the industry. In this paper examining data from the UK's International Passenger Survey for the past 15 years, we demonstrate that, while travel to Poland has indeed increased dramatically, much of this actually reflects a wider pattern of Polish migrants living in the UK and returning to Poland for medical care rather than increased ‘medical tourism’ consumer activity by Britons in Poland.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Early online date11 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2019

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© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Medical tourism
  • migration
  • Poland

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