Travel Weekly editor Sarah LongbottomMedical tourism is nothing new. With long waiting lists on the National Health Service and prohibitively expensive private healthcare in the UK, the prospect of travelling abroad for medical procedures has a certain appeal: huge savings on the treatment with a holiday break thrown in.


This week the European Commission put forward proposals that could allow Britons to travel anywhere in the European Union to undergo treatment and the NHS will pick up the bill.


If approved, the plans will take several years to come in to force. But this does not prevent travel agents from jumping on the bandwagon now. It may not be the traditional idea of a holiday, but it still involves travel and accommodation – and perhaps some sightseeing after the operation.


Prepare for a seasonal strike


Reading the response this week to the potential BAA strikes over the festive period, it is clear members of the public are not impressed. And why would they be?


People work hard all year, and getting away from it all or visiting loved ones over the Christmas period is something we all look forward to. It is hard for the travelling public to sympathise with a group of people whose strike action puts paid to their Christmas holiday plans.


It is imperative that BAA has a plan B in place in case of a strike. Times are hard enough for travel agents and tour operators, and airport closures over the festive period could be disastrous.


The best agents can do is to keep clients informed of the updates on the proposed strike and be prepared to suggest alternative dates. Once again, this shows the value of booking through an agent.


Whatever the outcome, may I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas.