With the NHS in the UK, few of us have much experience of the private healthcare industry. That’s a good thing, of course – it means that the NHS is doing its job, and ensuring that health needs are taken care of, free at the point of use.
However, it is no secret that the NHS is struggling at present, for a variety of different reasons. Autumn and winter are some of the busiest times for the strained service, which makes it a good time of year to consider your options regarding private healthcare.
If you have ever found yourself struggling with waiting list times or just wanting to see someone as quickly as possible, then the private industry is a viable option. Due to the NHS’s general efficacy though, few of those who live in the UK truly understand what’s involved. So, with the busiest time of the year for the NHS soon upon us, it seems a pertinent time to go through some of the most common questions people have about private healthcare.
Can You Use The NHS and Private Clinics?
Yes, the two services run concurrently to one another. You don’t need to surrender your NHS entitlement to visit a private doctor. In fact, the best treatment is usually found when the two services communicate with one another, which many do.
How Do You Fund Private Treatment?
The most conventional source of funding is with insurance. This is sometimes provided by employers, so it’s worth checking your benefits to see if you are entitled.
If you don’t have health coverage through your employer, then you can buy it for yourself – think of it as another form of insurance.
For individual conditions, then you pay in the same way that you would with a dentist. Most clinics will accept payment by card on the day, though some will prefer to send an invoice that you pay at a later date. While paying as you go can be expensive and may require the help of secured loans and your credit card, it is most cost effective if you don’t want to be locked into a long-term insurance plan.
How Much Does It Cost?
That entirely depends on the doctor, the clinic, and the treatment. Clinics are usually upfront about their pricing, so don’t be worried to ask – they’re quite accustomed to it.
What Can Private Services Not Do?
Emergency treatment is far better handled by the NHS and this is where you will be referred if you break your arm, for example. It’s also better to manage long-term, chronic conditions with the NHS, though you can use private sources for diagnostic testing, which you then give to your NHS doctor. This helps to eliminate waiting list times.
Can You Receive Help For Mental Health Treatment Privately?
Yes, which given the length of waiting list times for mental health NHS help, can be the most efficient option. You can access the full range of psychological and psychiatric help that you may need. The information gained can still be fed back to your NHS GP so that your medical records are up to date.
Why Should I Pay Again If I’ve Already Paid For The NHS Through Taxation?
While the above is a natural thing to wonder, it’s best to see the NHS and private clinics as two sides of the same coin. You can always use the NHS for your health needs and enjoy the benefits of taxation, but you still have an additional option if you wish to speed up the process. You won’t receive better or preferential care through private clinics, it will just be quicker. Some people consider this a luxury worth paying for.
Are Private Doctors Better Than NHS Doctors?
No. The vast majority of private doctors will have been trained to NHS standards, and many will still work for the NHS in some capacity. A good doctor is a good doctor, and you will find plenty of them in the NHS and in the private sector. You do not guarantee yourself better treatment by opting for a private service; the benefits are usually in the time and choice you have available to you.
Can Children Visit Private Clinics?
Yes, there is no age limit on who can use private services.
So as the busiest months approach, if you find yourself with the means and desire to see a private doctor, hopefully the above will have helped to settle some of your questions.