Whatever your situation, there might come a point when you consider going private instead of having treatment via the NHS.
Without a doubt, we’re lucky to have the NHS. Offering medical care to the nation — and for many, at no cost — it’s considered one of Britain’s greatest achievements. Why, then, would you ever need private healthcare?
In this blog, we look at when you might want to consider going private versus choosing the NHS, and answer the question, ‘what are the benefits of private healthcare?’ once and for all.
The current strain on the NHS
Inevitably, when affordable healthcare is offered on such a large scale, it’s going to be in high demand. And in the case of a public-funded body with limited resources, demand is going to quickly exceed supply.
The reality is that even before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, the NHS was overburdened. Population growth, increased life expectancy, and a lack of funding, have led our public health service to breaking point; leading to long waits for patients and a limited choice of treatments. In February 2020, only days after the first COVID case was reported in the UK, the number of people awaiting treatment stood at 4.4 million.
As the pandemic raged on, doctors, nurses and support staff up and down the country responded valiantly, prioritising the care of millions of individuals in hospitals with the virus. Thankfully, hospitalisation rates due to the virus are going down, but the backlog of procedures has continued to grow. In July 2021, up to 5.6 million people were waiting for hospital treatment, and of those, many had been left waiting for consultations, operations and procedures for over 18 months.
Benefit of private healthcare #1: Reduced waiting times
It’s no surprise, then, that one of the main benefits of private healthcare is reduced waiting times.
Patients can find themselves stuck in a queue for months or years on the NHS. An increasing number of people have been waiting for more than two years for orthopaedic surgery, such as for a joint replacement. While this procedure is considered non-urgent, the conditions that necessitate such a surgery, including osteoarthritis, can cause considerable pain and discomfort.
Going private can mean the difference between waiting years or literally days. At our private hospital in London, for example, patients can book an appointment the next day — and in urgent cases, the same day. After an initial consultation, you might be booked in for surgery the same week.
To put this into perspective, you could be fully recovered from your operation and feeling like your old self long before you’d even get an appointment date on the NHS.
Benefit of private healthcare #2: One-on-one, personalised care
You’re probably familiar with the following scenario: you go to your local GP, are sent away and told to come back if your situation doesn’t improve. You go back and have to explain yourself all over again to a different doctor. Through no fault of their own, GPs have to endure hectic caseloads. In July 2021, a record 25.8 million appointments (excluding COVID-19 vaccinations) are estimated to have taken place, making it impossible for GPs to get to know every one of their patients.
Consultants and GPs at private hospitals see fewer patients, but that doesn’t mean they spend less time working. On the contrary, Consultants spend more time with their patients and will often stay with them during their health journey, taking the time to put them at ease, answer their questions and get to know them.
When patients may be feeling a range of emotions, from sadness and confusion, to uncertainty and fear, the personal touch can go a long way.
Benefit of private healthcare #3: Superior facilities
The personal touch wouldn’t be complete without luxurious, best-in-class facilities to go with it.
Private hospitals aren’t held back by a stretched budget that means compromising on comfort. Because insurers and self-paying clients fund them, private hospitals can:
- Invest money into employing Consultants who are leaders in their field;
- Purchase the newest and most effective equipment;
- Create a relaxing environment for patients.
At our private hospital in London, for example, we’ve recently invested £2.1 million into an ultra-modern refurbishment to provide patients with ensuite bathrooms, bluetooth-controlled air conditioning systems, smart TVs and stylish fixtures and fittings.
Our specialist outpatient departments also boast more than 60 beds, each in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms — and many with a stunning view of the Chelsea Flower Show garden.
For patients who feel on edge when they have to go into hospital, and who might hate the clinical environment and lack of privacy, these facilities can often be the benefit that tips the scale in favour of private healthcare.
Benefit of private healthcare #4: Support St John’s Hospice
Getting the medical care you need — especially if you’ve waited a long time — will almost certainly make you feel better, but what if you could feel good in another way?
St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is unique in that we use the Hospital’s profits to fund our Hospice services.
At St John’s Hospice, we provide specialised end- of-life care and support, free of charge, to more than 4,000 terminally ill patients and their families, friends and carers each year.
By choosing us as your private medical care provider, you’ll know that you’re supporting families through the most difficult times of their lives, and are helping to fund the highest quality of palliative care and bereavement support.
Benefit of private healthcare #5: Support the NHS
It may sound counterintuitive, but by choosing to go private, you’re playing your part in supporting our overburdened NHS. With the number of patients awaiting treatment expected to climb higher over the coming months and years, every bit helps. If you can afford private healthcare, or have health insurance, you’ll be seen much faster. In turn, you’ll have helped someone else on the waiting list to get their appointment earlier; someone who may be in pain but can’t afford private treatment.
How much does private healthcare cost in the UK?
If you’ve read through the benefits of private healthcare and think it might be the right choice for you, you may be wondering how much it’ll cost.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer, as the cost of your care will depend on the treatment you have and the hospital you choose.
However, we consider ourselves highly competitive on price and offer several assessment packages that are cheaper than our competitors.
If you have health insurance, it’s also worth speaking to your insurer — or your employer, if they offer employee insurance. Medical insurance can significantly reduce how much you’ll pay, and depending on your type of insurance, you may not have to pay an excess fee.
Our Admissions Team is also on hand to help you prepare all the information you need so that you can focus on your treatment and recovery rather than worry about your hospital bill.
There are many benefits of private healthcare, some universal and others unique to the hospital you choose. It’s a decision only you can make, and it’s important to weigh up your options, dig into what you can get for your money, and speak to hospital staff to find the best care for you.
Are you considering going private? Whatever your concerns or questions, our team is happy to help you explore your options. Call us on 020 7806 4000, email [email protected] or fill in our contact form.