Health tourism: Local hospital reviewed. 3 stars

From the outset the décor felt 'clinical'

From the outset the décor felt ‘clinical’

With health tourism on the increase and the NHS being asked to charge more for it’s holiday services, we decided to take a weekend city break at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital to review the amenities of this growing holiday sector.

Arriving at the hospital on a Friday evening, the first thing that we noticed is the large amounts of Brits that were very drunk and had clearly been fighting. Although we were located between Luton and Dunstable, this could have been any Spanish resort favoured by package holiday travel agents.

The receptionist seemed to be over-worked when we finally reached her desk. We were tenth in line when we joined the end of it, however we did notice the typical holiday problem of other being unable to queue. It seems that at this location arriving in an ambulance gives you priority checking in and saves you a four hour wait. Had it said this in the brochure, we may have opted for the ‘car crash’ option.

One thing we did learn very early on is that unlike many other European destinations, it is frowned upon to try and reserve a bed with a beach towel.

Once we were shown to our accommodation we were a little disappointed to find we were sharing a room with three complete strangers, with only a flimsy curtain separating us. GCHQ could have done a better job of protecting our privacy. One of these guests had been on holiday here for 5 weeks and it was noticeable that he knew all of the doctors and nurses names, although it became clear that none of them knew his name or why he was here.

After unpacking our bags, paying £20 for the television, ticking the menu to chose our evening meal and enjoying a glass of complementary tap water we decided to have a look at the some of the amenities, starting with the pool. The pool was fantastic and much better than some luxury spas we have been to. Both spacious and warm it was a pleasure to use. We must say, however, it would have been a five star experience without the naked lady giving birth at the other end.

On our way back to the ward for our evening meal, we were impressed with the levels of cleanliness in all areas of the hospital. As seasoned travellers, we have become used to seeing dead cockroaches laying in the hallways of our hotels. But here, the only dead things laying in the corridors were patients.

Our food arrived on a trolley and was served up on only the finest plastic plates. Admittedly the food was of a standard that would make any health tourist look forward to the airline food on the journey home. However it was not all bad. Instead of the traditional ‘after dinner mint’, the nurses handed out a cocktail of drugs to ease the increasing amount of stomach cramps.

As our holiday came to an end we were glad to be leaving. As we checked out and walked out the main doors, we couldn’t help noticing some guests getting preferential treatment. Whereas we were forced to wait for the next bus, others were taken home in a blacked-out ‘private’ ambulance.

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