For those of you who think that a socialized health care is the way, and that Italy is a model, it could be useful to know that record numbers of Italians are travelling abroad for medical treatment, according to patient figures released on Thursday.

Around 5,000 Italian ‘health tourists’ filed requests in 2005 to receive treatment abroad, the majority of them from Italy’s underdeveloped southern regions, the European organisation Active Citizenship Network (ACN) said.

Almost 40% were from the region of Campania around Naples and nearly 10% from Sicily, said the ACN, which is a European network of citizens’ rights groups. It could also be useful to know that Sicily and Campania are among those italian regions with a massive health care deficit, which forced a bailout plan from the Prodi government, made by local tax increases and additional central government funds.