You can get private hospital treatment without private
health insurance, as a ‘self paying’ patient, which means paying for the
treatment yourself with credit card, cash or cheque, usually on or before
admission to the hospital. ‘Self paying’
is also an option if it is not possible to get health insurance cover for a
pre-existing condition. But be aware that it could become quite expensive if
your problem isn't straightforward and you need to see several different
specialists before the problem is resolved.
Before deciding to go privately and pay for your operation
it is sensible to check out the NHS waiting times in your local area and
further afield. If there is a long wait at your local NHS hospital, you have
the right to opt for treatment at any other NHS hospital in the UK (or indeed
within the European Union – see Guide
to a Patient’s Rights under the European Directive on Patient Mobility ).
One option for patients without private health insurance is
to research the “fixed price
surgery” deals available from your local private hospitals. To
locate private hospitals near you, use “Find a hospital” on Private Healthcare UK. The local
hospital may also offer payment
schemes to enable you to spread the cost of treatment.
The usual process for
private treatment without health insurance is as follows:
- Go to your GP. He or she may recommend a
specialist and will write a private patient referral letter. (Sometimes the GP
will charge for this.) However, you can do some research on the specialist
whom you want to be treated by and can ask your GP to refer you to a specific consultant.
You can search for information on over 5,000 private consultants on GoPrivate.com.
- You attend an out-patient appointment with
the consultant where relevant tests are carried out (or are booked for a later
date) and either an outpatient/inpatient treatment is booked (or no further
treatment is necessary). The consultation will typically cost between
£150-250 and is normally paid on the day, or settled soon afterwards if no
further treatment is needed.
- The consultant will write to your GP to update
him or her.
- If you need an operation, you can ask a
private hospital to give you a fixed price
for surgery. This will include the surgeon’s and anaesthetist’s fees
and the hospitals costs for the operation. Take a look at some typical
costs for private treatment.
- The consultant may also carry out private
operations within his or her NHS hospital. This may be less costly.
- At this stage, you can decide not to go ahead. If
you are happy with the price, the admission date is booked and you will
pay all or part of the cost before admission to hospital.
- After hospital treatment, the
hospital/consultant sends an update to the GP and you will attend a follow
up appointment with the consultant.
- If post operative care at the private hospital
is not convenient for you, you may need to arrange services such as
physiotherapy or rehabilitation near your home or place of work. Make sure that
you allow for the cost of this.
What are fixed price surgery schemes?
Many companies (including BMI Healthcare, Spire Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Ramsay Healthcare)
operate a ‘fixed price surgery scheme’ for patients which is available for many
private operations, and is usually available to most people, at any age.
The patient pays a fixed price for the operation which normally includes all
medical and nursing care at hospital, the cost of private hospital accommodation,
operating theatre fees, drugs and dressings while in hospital, as well as the
surgeons' and anaesthetists’ fees (provided that the consultant participates in
For more information about the self pay and fixed price
surgery schemes offered by UK private hospitals, visitPrivate Healthcare UK.
Can I get finance or a loan for surgery?
Yes. Specialist finance companies offer competitive personal
medical loans and finance schemes specifically for people who don’t have
private health insurance and who want to finance their private health treatment
or cosmetic surgery operation. Visit the Finance Schemes section of Private Healthcare UK for more
Where can I get a quote for surgery?
As a self paying patient, you need to locate and contact
local hospitals for a quote, and agree a price for treatment. Take a look
at some of the hospitals listed on PrivateHealthcare UK. If you would like a quote for a fixed-price operation
from up to three providers in your area, completeour private surgery enquiry form - you will receive a response within
Do I need a referral from my GP for private treatment?
There are very few private GPs in the UK. (See the
Private Healthcare UK list of private GPs). So, when you decide to go
private, whether you have private health insurance or not, your first step is
normally to see your NHS GP. Your NHS GP will write the referral letter for
your appointment with a private doctor or specialist.
Many private doctors, consultants and specialists are
reluctant to see a patient unless there is a referral letter from the patient's
GP. You can check with your preferred consultant’s private secretary to see if
this is the case. Many private hospitals will arrange an appointment with one
of their consultants, but communication with your GP will take place during
your diagnosis and treatment.
GP referral letters are not normally required for physiotherapy,
health screening, and cosmetic surgery and dentistry.
If you do not have a GP, your local private hospital may
arrange for an appointment for you with a private GP in their outpatient
department, if you wish. Or you can find a local private GP practice or clinic.
for a private GP).
Once you have seen
the GP, he or she will recommend an appropriate specialist. Or you can tell the GP which specialist you
would like to see. (Search for a private
specialist on the GoPrivate database.)