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How to choose a private doctor

It is important to know what qualifications and accreditations surgeons, doctors and dentists should have in order to practise in the UK, and then to check that the professionals you will be seeing have these in place. 

All practising doctors, whether NHS doctors or private doctors, will be listed on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) register, cosmetic surgeons will be members of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and cosmetic dentists will be listed on the General Dental Council’s (GDC) register and may be members of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD). 

Before meeting the consultant prepare a list of questions, and make sure you get time to ask them.  

Here are some suggested questions to ask the private doctor or surgeon:

  • Can you provide a detailed profile of your background and experience?
  • What qualifications do you hold?
  • When and where did you receive training in surgery?
  • Of which national, European and international associations related to your area of surgery are you a member?
  • Have you ever been the subject of a complaint to the General Medical Council? If so, please provide details.
  • What is your position and role within the NHS?
  • What papers on your area of surgery have you published in respected medical journals?
  • Do you have any video available online, so that I can see what you are like?
  • I am planning to have a hip replacement/knee replacement/prostate operation (name the operation that you require). How many operations of this specific type do you undertake each year?
  • What information can you provide on your success rate or the outcome for the operation that I require?
  • What information can you provide on post operative infection rates for the operation that I require?
  • Can I speak to any of your past patients to find out about their experience?
  • How much do you charge for the initial consultation?

Afterwards, reflect on whether your individual circumstances and needs were taken into account and whether you were happy with the answers given.  For example, was sufficient information provided about alternative treatment options, possible risks, or side effects?  Equally, did you feel comfortable with the consultant?  If not, ask the hospital or your GP to refer you to somebody else.  Admittedly any subsequent consultations will need to be paid for, but you should weigh this up with the price of being satisfied and receiving the care you deserve, by someone you trust.

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