The National Health Service (NHS) has done a stellar job responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of us stayed at home to protect ourselves and our loved ones, frontline workers heroically stepped forward to treat an ever-growing list of patients. If anything, the pandemic has made us all more appreciative of the NHS — including how fortunate we are to have access to free healthcare.
That being said, does it pay to go private?
The latest data certainly suggests so — private hospitals are seeing a surge in demand for their services. With NHS waiting lists stretching into months and even years due to an enormous backlog of cases, patients are increasingly opting for private healthcare in London and all over the UK, and it’s a trend set to continue.
Why More People Are Choosing Private Healthcare
No Wait Times
When you opt for healthcare through the NHS, you’ll be assigned a general practitioner (GP) based on your location and the doctor’s schedule. If you later need to be referred to a specialist, you often face a lengthy wait for a spot to become available.
But when you’re not feeling well or you need treatment, it’s only natural to want to get an appointment straight away. With private healthcare, you can choose the location, which hospital you want to be treated at, the treatment you get and even who administers it. You also face a much shorter wait — some hospitals even offer same or next-day appointments.
Patients can pay as they go or take advantage of their medical insurance plan if they have one. Some private health insurance policies even include 24/7 GP access. This means that even out of hours or while abroad, patients can always speak to a doctor via a video or telephone call.
When attending your local doctors’ surgery or having an operation at a public hospital, it can sometimes feel like you’re rushed out of the door no sooner after getting in. You might finally get a phone consultation only for it to last a few minutes. At an in-person appointment, you’re lucky to get through all of your concerns, only to have to explain it all to another doctor on a return visit.
With long queues and a stretched NHS, the lack of one-on-one, personalised care and attention is no surprise.
But at a private hospital, patients are likely to see the same consultant every time. Because private hospitals don’t tend to have the huge caseloads of the NHS, consultants can spend more time with their patients and foster a strong, trustworthy relationship. This puts patients at ease and gives them time to ask any questions they might have, which is especially reassuring during a time that can be scary and uncertain.
Private hospitals typically have bigger budgets, meaning patients receive top-level medical care from highly paid medical professionals. But while the quality of care is vital, one of the biggest draws of going private is the environment itself. In many private hospitals, gone are the packed wards, lack of privacy and uncomfortable, clinical surroundings. Instead, patients benefit from a private, luxurious room where they can relax and see visitors without being overheard by strangers. A few nights in a private hospital is more akin to a hotel stay, with an ensuite bathroom, TV and comfortable bedding making relaxation and sleep (a critical component of a successful recovery) even easier. Also gone is the bland hospital food; you can expect a wide range of delicious meals on offer when you go private.
Also read: Simple Ways to Overcome Dental Phobia
With many private healthcare providers offering packages and price plans, access to superior patient care is more affordable than ever. If you’re stuck on a long waiting list or dreading the day your appointment finally comes through because you don’t want to stay on a crowded ward, going private may be just what the doctor ordered.