Once you decide to go private, you have a choice about which hospital consultant you want to see. Unlike many NHS patients, you will be seen by the same doctor throughout your consultation, investigation, and treatment. You can also expect to get an appointment much quicker as private hospital consultants are not over-run with patients.
This article is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
First, however, you need to see your GP. They can refer you to a consultant automatically, unless you give them the name of a preferred doctor. We have a database of 2,500 private hospital consultants.
Your GP will then write to the hospital consultant with details of your case, and you will be contacted to arrange a date for your consultation.
It makes sense to find a hospital consultant that specialises in your illness. They have greater experience of recognising symptoms and treating the condition, giving you a better overall service and chance of a speedy recovery.
There are specialist consultants in many fields, for instance:
- Allergy specialists – are scientists or clinicians that specialise in immunology, the study of the immune system. They treat diseases caused by harmful organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
- Plastic surgeons – are general surgeons that are especially skilled in cosmetic or reconstructive surgery. For example, they may perform cleft pallet repairs or breast reconstructions after a mastectomy, etc.
- Orthopaedic surgeons – specialise in disorders involving limbs, bones, muscles and joints. They deal with fractures, joint injuries, tendon injuries, nerve injuries, lacerations, wounds, arthritis and sports injuries.
- Neurologists – are scientists or physicians that investigate, diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system. They may also be involved in clinical research and trials.
- Sports injury surgeons – are orthopaedic surgeons that have undergone fellowship training in surgical sports medicine. They treat injuries to muscles and bones in different areas of the body, such as the knee, hip, shoulder, spine, back, hand, wrist and foot.
Becoming a doctor involves studying for a Degree in Medicine, known as a Bachelor of Medicine, which usually takes five years. This primary medical qualification gives them one of the following abbreviations after their name: MB, MMBS, MBChB, BM and BCh.
The trainee doctor is then placed in a variety of specialties and healthcare settings to gain a grounding in practical medicine and develop core clinical skills. After completing Foundation Years 1 and 2, doctors can undertake further specialist training. It usually takes 4-6 years to complete Specialist Registrar (SpR) training, depending on the title.
The General Medical Council (GMC) holds information on all doctors registered to practice in the UK on its List of Registered Practitioners. This is updated daily and lists all primary and specialist qualifications of doctors along with other key information.
Questions to ask a consultant
Before selecting a hospital consultant to treat you, consider asking them the following questions:
- What is your experience of this type of surgery?
- How many operations of this type do you perform each year in the NHS and in the private sector?
- What is your success rate for this operation?
- Do you have any specific qualifications that make you better skilled at performing this operation?
- What is your rate of complications with this kind of operation?
- Can I speak to any of your past patients as a point of reference?
Having met the hospital consultant, be sure you feel you can trust them and they are sympathetic towards your condition. This is important for your own piece of mind. Surgery can be a stressful experience and you need to make your stay in hospital as worry-free as possible.
Feel free to ask your hospital consultant any other questions about your treatment, such as:
- What is included in the price?
- What happens if there are complications and further treatment is needed?
- Where will the surgery be carried out?
- Are there any alternative hospital choices?
- How long will I have to stay in hospital?
- What are the risks associated with the type of anaesthesia used?
- How much pain can I expect?
- How soon can I have visitors?
- How long before I can go back to work?