Samui Wining & Dining
Sunshine Surgery
Bangkok Hospital Samui offers first-rate accommodation
and facilities for visitors seeking world-class medical procedures.


Sunshine SurgeryMedical tourism isn’t something you readily associate with Samui. Certainly, over the last decade or so, the major international hospitals of Bangkok have distinguished themselves in this arena. In fact, Thailand is now a leader in the global medical tourism market, housing Asia’s largest private hospital and with many hospitals having gained international accreditation for precisely these procedures. But the majority of these are in the capital. And this seems to be where all eyes turn when considering an alternative to the expensive surgery of the Western world.


But Samui is a delightful island and a popular holiday destination. It’s the perfect place to relax for a few weeks, good weather is practically guaranteed, the island is simple to navigate and the cost of living here is a fraction of its Western counterparts. And, if you combine these attractions with the facilities of one of Thailand’s leading surgical hospitals, it gives pause for thought. What could be more appealing than enjoying a sunshine holiday alongside the surgery you’re considering? Recuperating on a tropical beach has its attractions . . .


The Bangkok Hospital Group is Thailand’s largest operator in this field and now has 15 networked locations spread throughout the kingdom. And this includes the modern and high-tech Bangkok Hospital Samui which is prominently located on the ring-road in Chaweng.


It’s a very purposeful place, light, bright and busy, and with staffing levels, facilities and amenities that would turn most of its overseas equivalents green with envy. As soon as you walk into the big reception area you can see that this is an institution that takes itself and its clients seriously. As well as the reception area there’s a comfortable lounge with a ‘Coffee Corner’ and complimentary internet access. But what you can’t see is interlinked network of emergency and assistance vehicles, including a Medivac crisis helicopter, or the partnership with Bangkok Airways if easy transfers to other regions need to be arranged. Not that you’d probably need recourse to any of these elements if you’re here on a scheduled break for combined ‘business’ (in this instance, of the medical variety) and pleasure.


The first step of the process is to contact the hospital by email. The hospital’s Customer Liaison Director, Khun Hathairat Leuangrittivutti, explained the approach. “Clients will, of course, already have a specific operation in mind,” she said, “and so the first thing is to confirm that we are staffed and equipped for this. This is really only a formality as the only surgery we refer to our Bangkok partners is invasive heart procedures or laser eye treatments; we have dedicated units there for these highly-specialised areas. We’ll then need to liaise with your physician and/or hospital and research your medical condition and case history. We’re even equipped for teleconferencing at this stage, if it proves necessary. But if everything is straightforward then we are in a position to begin the scheduling process. Obviously part of this includes duplicating your existing medication in readiness for you, if this applies.”


The range of surgical procedures that is available is extensive and to itemise everything here wouldn’t be possible. But another aspect of the hospital’s proficiency comes in the form of their web presence, and full details are to be found on their clear and comprehensive website. One of the headers you’ll see there reveals a listing of ‘Conditions Treated’. It’s in the form of an A-Z and itemises an astonishing total of 196 conditions that the Bangkok Hospital is staffed and equipped to handle.


Suffice it to say that the most-requested treatments range from a host of cosmetic surgery options, right through to organ transplants, and cover such orthopaedic aspects as cataract removal, knee and hip replacement, hysterectomy, angioplasty, spinal fusion and other spinal treatments. Surgical procedures are, to coin a phrase, cutting edge, and employ processes that include Computer Assisted Surgery (CAS).


“Although we offer a comprehensive range of surgical procedures,” Khun Hathairat continued, “a great many visitors to Samui come here for diagnostic or health checks. We have a CAT (Computer Axial Tomography) scanner that provides an intensive ‘64-slice’ analysis as opposed to the more-common ‘4-slice’ processing of the older technology. Plus there are the ultra-sound and echocardiogram scans that are indispensable for checking the condition of the heart and the other vital organs. Brain and spinal chord analysis via Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is more-highly specialised and we need to liaise with Bangkok for this. To make these exchanges effortless we have a special relationship with Bangkok Airways and will arrange the flight and transportation for you. And this is particularly useful if you are flying back to Europe after an operation. Rather than having to wait around and then connect in Bangkok, we’ll arrange for you to fly to Phuket, accommodate you overnight, and then you can fly back direct the following day.”


“The same holds true for patients who are recuperating in Bangkok, after, say, heart procedures,” she added. “We have everything in place for them to fly here and convalesce in a holiday atmosphere, if they wish.”


With our island now seeing more and more visitors from Germany, France and Russia, Bangkok Hospital has risen to the occasion and has taken on trained health-care staff who are able to communicate in these languages in addition to English. Japan is a country with an established track record of coming here for medical ‘holidays’ and the Bangkok branch has an entire Japanese-speaking medical centre specifically to cater for this.


When you realise that around 200,000 foreign visitors availed themselves of the facilities of the Bangkok Hospital Group last year, then you’ll begin to understand how this high level of experience and expertise has come about. Even taking the air fares and accommodation into account (and there are 50 private rooms at the Samui hospital alone, 10 of which have ICUs) there’s still a huge saving to be made, particularly when it comes to major surgery. So much so, in fact, that you’ll probably find that these savings have more than paid for your entire trip. There’s a lot to be said for sunshine surgery!


Rob De Wet


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