The following helpful guide is provided by BMI Healthcare, one of the UK's leading providers of private hospital treatment.
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A guide to "going private"
It's often thought that "going private" is difficult to do - nothing could be further from the truth. In fact it's quite simple to access private health care - just follow these steps.
First, go and see your GP. He or she will be able to give you advice and most importantly, help you make an informed choice on what is best for you and meeting your specific needs.
If you need tests or investigations, and you choose to go privately, you will probably find that most private hospitals will be able to carry out the tests or investigations promptly, at a time which is convenient for you and the results are usually back with your GP faster than otherwise.
If you need to see a specialist - a hospital consultant - and wish to go privately, your GP will be able to refer you. If you have a particular consultant in mind - perhaps one who has treated you before, or has been recommended to you - then tell your GP. Many people choose private treatment in order to guarantee access to a consultant. Most consultants are employed at a local NHS Trust hospital and base their private practice with a local private hospital.
When you book to see a consultant privately, you shouldn't have to wait too long for your appointment and often consultants see a patient within a couple of weeks. Private consultations with a specialist range from around £100 - £250, depending on the type of specialist and location.
If you require treatment you can still choose to go to the NHS and join the local hospital waiting list for your treatment, which may be provided by another consultant. Or you can choose to stay in the private system. Your consultant's secretary will usually help you with arrangements and obtain a quote if you are paying for your own treatment. The consultant's secretary will also liaise with the hospital about your admission.
Points to note
- Some private hospital services can be accessed directly without a referral from your GP. These include health screening, physiotherapy and some pathology tests. If you wish to know more about these services, or which services require GP referrals, contact your local hospital.
- Private hospitals are prevented from recommending particular specialists, but if you wish to know who works at a particular hospital, then contact your local hospital for this information.
- If you have a medical insurance policy, you need to call your insurance company prior to both a private consultation and admission to a private hospital.
- If you do go privately and you are insured, your GP may need to sign your insurance claim form. GPs are entitled to, and often do, charge for this and it is worth asking them what their charge will be.