Bumrungrad Hospital

During a routine self-examination last year, I felt a little lump in my breast. I reacted with alarm. I had worked for a while on oncology wards and am familiar with the reality of cancer, so I wanted to get myself checked as soon as possible. The slight difficulty was that at the time, we were staying on Koh Lipe, an island off the Andaman Coast. There were more stray dogs and sports bars than you could shake a stick at, but not a diagnostic clinic in sight. We were planning to go back to Bangkok soon anyway, so I quickly did some research and called for an appointment at Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International Hospital. To my surprise, the person that answered the phone spoke excellent English, was extremely friendly (and understanding of the crackly line – I was calling using Skype), and seemed to know exactly what to do to get me an appointment with the right specialist within the next few days. I was in a state of positive bewilderment. Working in public health care in three European countries over the past 10 years, I knew what it usually takes to get an appointment with a specialist. It’s certainly not just one 5 minute phone call (unless you have internal connections)! Being a health care professional myself, my curiosity was piqued. The appointment suddenly became more than just a medical check-up. It became an investigation into the much-talked-about Thai health-care system, and first-hand experience of it.

Bumrungrad International Hospital

I arrived for my appointment at Bumrungrad, and was first taken aback by the luxury. The place resembled a posh hotel more than a hospital, albeit a private one. At that point I became slightly worried about the cost of my examination. I also remembered all the run-down London hospitals I had worked in over the years. There was no aesthetic comparison. I waited for my appointment, used their free wi-fi, drank their free drinks. My financial concerns grew worse still when I saw all the Arabic patients arriving (perhaps fresh off private planes from Dubai). But I needed to get my lump checked. So I swallowed and waited a bit longer.

Bumrungrad Hospital waiting for the doctor

The specialist that examined me seemed competent and personable (despite the freaky Chinese-style facemask that never came off). She advised an ultrasound but not a biopsy, which was what I had hoped, and was in accordance with my previous knowledge. The ultrasound was completed within an hour, the results interpreted and given to me in the form of a CD for future reference.

Diagnosis: benign. Reaction: sigh of relief. Bill: 3880 baht (£80)! Second-tier reaction: even bigger sigh of relief, go get ice-cream.

The staff, state of the art equipment, and atmosphere of the facilities all compared favourably to my European experiences. So when I need to go for my follow-up ultrasound I won’t need to worry any more about the standard of care. It’s impressive. And for research purposes and to increase my sample size, I might just want to visit a different hospital.

Bumrungrad Hospital Bangkok