The NHS is the UK’s public healthcare system, funded by the Government and is free to use by all UK citizens and permanent residents. Private healthcare is any treatment that is not covered by the NHS, usually because this is too expensive for the NHS to cover.
With the mounting pressure on the NHS due to the longer waiting times, staff shortages and delays in treatment, it comes as no surprise that you may start to think that by investing in private treatment, you can be provided with a better standard of care. However, is private health care in the UK worth it?
These tips aim to help you decide whether private health care really is the best option for you.
The biggest downside of private health care is the cost of treatment, which in the UK you do not actually have to pay for. An initial consultation with a specialist can cost you up to £250, with further costs needed to pay for any diagnostic tests and then the treatment on top. Although you can take out private medical insurance, this is not cheap, although it is always worth asking your employer if private healthcare comes as part of your employee benefits package. You should bear in mind that some insurers do not cover the cost of all treatments and you may have to self-fund some of the costs of your treatment.
2. Type of treatment
Pre-existing medical conditions, chronic illnesses and incurable diseases such as diabetes are not covered by most medical insurance policies. In cases of cancer and heart conditions, you do get priority treatment on the NHS so in this instance you might just be better off with the NHS. Furthermore, there is no Accident and Emergency Department in a private hospital. In case of an emergency, especially if you have a time critical injury or illness, and need surgeons on hand, the NHS would be the best option for you.
You would only be referred to your local hospital or the closest facility to you if you require specialist treatment with the NHS. With private healthcare, there may not be local treatment options available to you. Especially with some private medical insurance policies where they might have an approved list of consultants and hospitals, you may find yourself having to travel further to get your treatment.
With the NHS, all patients are treated the same. However, with private hospitals they do tend to give priority to the patients who are able to pay upfront for the cost of their treatment. At least with the NHS you know you are not waiting any longer for treatment or diagnosis than anyone else.
5. Standard of care
The real concern is that sometimes private healthcare does not provide the standard of care that you would expect when compared to the NHS. With a private hospital you tend to get one specialist point of view, with no other consultants’ opinions. The important thing to do here is to check the reputation of your specialist and ask them about their success rate to ensure you are getting the best care. The NHS also have checks and balances in place which they have had in place for many years, like Multi-Disciplinary Medical Meetings where group decisions about your healthcare are also subject to audits which you would not find with a single private consultant who hires treatment rooms in a private hospital.
Although private medical insurance is not a necessity in the UK, the standard of care provided by doctors with both NHS and private hospitals will almost always be outstanding. Unfortunately, not all experiences with the NHS or private hospitals will be positive.
If you think any medical care you have received from any medical practitioner or facility has been below a reasonable standard, resulting in a worse outcome for your health or the death of a loved one, then then do not hesitate to get in touch with our Medical Megligence expert solicitors at RHL Solicitors to discuss your claim on a confidential ‘No Win No Fee’ basis.