Going Private

Combining NHS and Private Care

If you are a UK resident then you are entitled to free treatment on the NHS, except where legislation says that there are charges that must be met, for example prescription charges or charges for eye tests and dental treatment. This is something that cannot be taken away from you.

There are some patients, however, that may wish to be diagnosed or to be treated privately. As a result of this fact the Department of Health published guidelines in March 2009 for patients who wish to use both NHS and private medical services.

This report states that:

  • The treatment that you receive on the NHS will still be free of charge; even of you are paying to receive some services privately.
  • The NHS cannot contribute toward the cost of private treatment, nor can it subsidise such treatment.
  • Your NHS doctor will be able to tell you all the treatments that are available for your condition. He will also be able to tell you about any treatments that are only available privately, that is to say are not available on the NHS.
  • The treatment that you receive privately must be separate from the treatment that you are receiving on the NHS. This means that you have to receive your NHS and private treatments at different times and in different locations. They should be distinctly separate from each other. This rule may be waived if the patient’s doctor feels that the patient is not well enough to be moved.

You should be aware that doctors who work for the NHS are not allowed to advertise their private services to NHS patients unless you specifically ask. If you ask they will be able to tell you about any services which they provide privately, or which another doctor is able to provide that you would not be able to get on the NHS. They will also be able to tell you about any medications, which are available, privately, which are not available on the NHS.

Even if you have a private consultation and a private diagnosis you are still eligible and entitled to have your treatment on the NHS. If there is a waiting list for the treatment that you need, then your position on that list should be the same as if you had had your diagnosis on the NHS, that is to say it should be exactly the same.

If you have any complications when being dealt with privately it is usual for the private healthcare provider to deal with them unless they are an emergency. If your private healthcare provider treats you then you should probably expect to pay for them. If, for example, you have a side effect as the result of a private treatment you will have to pay for any additional treatments.

Where can I receive my private healthcare?

If you do decide that you wish to pay for certain parts or all of your healthcare then there are various places where you might receive this treatment. This might be from an NHS organisation that offers private services or from a private healthcare provider.