Choosing Private Health Care in the UK

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Why go private – Advantages of private health care

People choose to go private largely for high standards of healthcare with excellent facilities and short waiting times to see the highest regarded specialists.

In summary going private will give you:
• Fast access to treatment.
• Consultations and appointments at times to suit you.
• A choice of consultant or private specialist.
• A choice of when and where you want to be treated.
• Private treatment can usually be carried out quickly.
• Recovery from surgery in a comfortable private en-suite room where friends and family can visit with few restrictions.

What to look for when choosing private health care?

You want to choose a hospital, clinic and consultant surgeon that you trust and feel comfortable with. It’s important to make the right decision and below are listed some pointers to help you choose your hospital or private clinic and consultant.

How to choose a private hospital or clinic?

You will want to do some research and compare what private hospitals have to offer, how they differ and what sort of philosophy of care they offer. Ultimately you will make your choice of private hospital or clinic based on some or all of the following:

a) Location

How close a private hospital or clinic is located to you will undoubtedly play an important part in your choice. If it is within easy travelling distance then you can attend your appointments and your procedure easily, as well as your family and friends having easy access when they want to visit you.

b) Finances – private health care costs

• For insured patients

If you have private health insurance you will need to check which hospitals and clinics are approved by your policy. You will also need to establish what is covered by your private health insurance policy specific for your procedure and if there are extra charges that you will have to pay.

• For self-paying patients

‘Self-paying’ patients pay directly for their private treatment. One of the first things to consider if you’re paying for the treatment yourself is how much it will be. It’s advisable to choose a hospital or clinic offering fixed price surgery packages so that you know what you will be paying for your treatment without any surprises. If you're not on a fixed package, compare the daily room charge at each healthcare provider, the accommodation and service, as well as the consultant’s fees and the cost of the surgery.

You will also need to think about how you will finance the operation. Do you have the resources to cover the treatment or will you need a loan, or a payment plan that allows you to spread the cost in monthly instalments?

c) Treatments

Find out if the hospital or private clinic specialises in the treatment you require. Some specialise in particular types of surgery such as weight loss surgery or cardiac surgery. Find out as much as possible about the procedure that you need and compare across the private hospitals and clinics that provide your treatment or surgery.

d) Quality and accreditations

In the UK, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) assesses and regulates all hospitals and clinics. You can find a hospital’s most recent inspection report by the Care Quality Commission on their website¹.

Regarding cleanliness and safety, you can ask what the post-operative infection rate at the hospital or clinic is. They should carry out basic infection control surveillance. Independent sector healthcare providers generally have a low rate of hospital acquired infection such as MRSA.

e) Support services

You may need support services following your operation such as physiotherapy and nutritional advice. Find out what you will need after your procedure and what is available at your chosen hospital or clinic.

f) Waiting times

Most private patients have a short waiting time to see their consultant. It is advisable to clarify how long you can expect to wait for each part of your patient journey for your specific treatment at each hospital or clinic you are considering.

g) Who will pay additional fees and hospital costs if things go wrong?

If something does go wrong and further treatment or another operation is needed it is best to know beforehand who would pay the additional fees and additional hospital costs.

h) Facilities

Most independent hospitals and clinics offer single rooms, usually with en-suite bathroom or shower, TV and radio. However, find out if you would be expected to share a room with another patient for your procedure.

If the treatment is for your child find out whether they have rooms for the parent to stay with the child. Most paediatric care providers have facilities for parents to stay overnight with children.

How to choose a private Consultant

It’s important to know what qualifications and accreditations consultants should have in order to practise in the UK. For peace of mind it is best to investigate and check that your proposed consultant is fully trained and qualified in their area of speciality.

Your consultant should:
• Be on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) register. From 1997 they also should be the GMC “specialist register” in their chosen speciality such as plastic surgery².
• Hold a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) if they are to perform surgery. This is a professional qualification to practise as a surgeon in Ireland or the United Kingdom. FRCS is a general qualification and surgeons who have had specialist training in specific areas hold the qualification in this specific area e.g. a surgeon who has had specialist training in orthopaedics will hold the qualification FRCS (Orth).
• Work or have worked as an NHS consultant.
• Hold membership for National, European and International professional associations related to their area of speciality such as European Society of Cardiologists (ESC) for Cardiologists or British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) for cosmetic surgeons.
• Work out of a reputable clinic.
• Publish research / papers on their area of surgery in respected medical journals.

You may also find it useful to ask how many operations of your required procedure the consultant does each year and their success rates for the operation. You may also ask if you can speak to any of their past patients to find out about their experience.

Initial consultations are often not included in a package price. You will want to find out the cost of this. After your first consultation you will need to decide if you are happy to proceed with this doctor.

How to choose a weight loss surgeon in the UK
How to choose a cosmetic surgeon in the UK

Other staff

You can ask about the professional registration of the private hospital’s clinical staff and check that this is up to date and that they are involved in continuing professional development (CPD), a requirement of the regulatory bodies.

In summary

It is perfectly natural to have some anxiety before a major operation or procedure but if you know what’s involved in the cost and feel confident about the surgeon’s abilities at your chosen hospital or clinic then you can rest assured you have made the best decisions regarding your private health care.

About Ramsay Health Care UK

Ramsay Health Care UK offers an award winning network of 32 private hospitals and clinics that span across the UK from Cornwall to Newcastle.

Ramsay offers a Total Care package to cover treatment paths in one fixed price quote. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing everything you need is covered. Should you need to stay in hospital longer than initially thought and quoted for, the cost is covered and this will include treatments and tests should complications occur.

Ramsay Health Care UK has extensive expertise and experience in providing a full range of surgical and non-surgical treatments across over 80 speciality areas. Ramsay is proud to work in partnership with some of the most well-qualified and experienced consultant specialists in their field.

All Ramsay Health Care Hospitals are audited by the Care Quality Commission and you can view the results of all Ramsay hospitals on the CQC website.

Ramsay is proud to have received the following awards and accreditations:
• The JAG Accreditation (formal recognition that an endoscopy service has demonstrated it has the competence to deliver against the measures in the endoscopy Global Rating Scale (GRS) Standards) at Mount Stuart Hospital, Pinehill Hospital, Berkshire Independent Hospital, Renacres Hospital
• The Patients Choice Award 2014 to four hospitals; Rivers Hospital in Sawbridgeworth, Oaks Hospital in Colchester, Fitzwilliam Hospital in Peterborough and Springfield Hospital in Chelmsford (the selection criteria included the achievement of an overall patient rating of 4.5 or higher out of 5 on the independent Private Healthcare UK Reviews website).
• Winning the prestigious 2013 HealthInvestor Award for ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’.

Here you can find our guide prices for our treatments

Contact us to discuss your options.




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