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Difference Between NHS and Private Hospitals

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Nhs V Private Healthcare Considerations

There are many reasons why some people decide to choose private hospital care over the NHS. Some prefer the comfort and privacy of having their own room often with en suite facilities, others prefer the food and there are those who want to avoid waiting lists for treatment or wish to have particular procedures carried out which are not available on the NHS.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have private medical care as a perk of your job however, private hospitals do not come cheap and you’d usually have to take out some kind of private healthcare insurance policy if you wanted to take this option.

Waiting Times

One of the main advantages of private health care over the NHS is the reduced waiting time for operations. Whilst the NHS have made dramatic inroads into cutting down the waiting times for necessary medical procedures, it is yet to be able to offer the same speed of service as the private sector.

Therefore, say you needed a hip replacement operation, you might decide to go private to get it done quicker rather than wait and suffer further pain and experience a longer period where your mobility and quality of life is limited.

Specialist Procedures

There are also other medical treatments which may mean you have no option but to go private as they might not be available on the NHS. These could include certain aspects of fertility treatments and different cosmetic procedures.

Home Comforts

Many people choose to go private because the facilities are often far better. In addition to having your own private room, many of which come with en suite facilities, you’ll usually find a higher quality of catering with more choice often from a la carte menus which are even accompanied by wine. Many will have satellite TV, complimentary newspapers and access to computers or fax machines and some privately-run hospitals can even cater to accommodate a partner, spouse or parent

Emergency Facilities

The level of emergency facilities can differ between private hospitals and, although many of them have some kind of high dependency unit, most of them do not have the same degree of intensive care provision that you might find in the NHS, simply because most of the operations that are carried out in the private sector are more routine. In the event that you should need emergency treatment, it’s often the case that you would then need to be transferred to an NHS hospital.

Your GP can point you in the right direction if you decide to look at a private hospital for treatment. They will be able to tell you the facilities that are best suited to your needs as many private hospitals will often specialise in a particular type of treatment. However, it’s important to visit the hospital first and to ask questions as well as obtaining literature about the hospital and what you can expect. Fortunately, most private hospitals have their own websites these days which you can also refer to.

Going Private Within The NHS

Alternatively, you might choose to opt for private healthcare but within the NHS sector. This gives you the added flexibility of being in a place where you can still receive the benefits of private healthcare in terms of staying in a private room or wing as well as having access to emergency facilities. This can also be a less costly arrangement than paying to go completely private and is also sometimes preferred because of the close proximity of the NHS hospital to where you live.

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My dad needs a hernia operation. He’s been told there’s no point going private to reduce the waiting time because the NHS has taken over all private hospitals. Is this true?
James - 16-Sep-20 @ 9:22 AM
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