This year the National Health Service turns 70.  Following its history-making launch in 1948, it has risen to become the world’s most significant publicly-funded health service.

In terms of the degree of care it provides, the NHS is arguably the most cost-effective healthcare system on the planet. While its problems and complaints are common knowledge, it’s also internationally celebrated as a successful system for quality healthcare delivery. However, with savage funding cuts in recent times, the NHS is flagging in its ability to care for the country’s medical needs.

The decline of the NHS has given rise to a new era of private healthcare providers. With people tired of waiting for appointments, overly-cramped hospitals, budget cuts, rationing of treatments, and a weary level of service, going private has become a necessity rather than a luxury for many.  This rise in demand for premium treatment has made way for a new wave of hospitals, including Londons very own Weymouth Street Hospital. As part of the Phoenix Hospital Group, it’s a boutique private hospital offering outstanding levels of care, and voted London’s best private hospital across 12 different categories.

So, if you’re not sure which is the best option for you, let’s have a look at some of the benefits of private healthcare, and how it compares to the NHS.

Choice

Private healthcare allows users an opportunity to select consultants, treatments and hospitals. However, the NHS mirrors this exactly.

In the UK, citizens enjoy formal rights to make choices about the service they receive. These include the right to state which GP you’d like to see, and the right to choose a GP surgery. It also includes the right to select the hospital where you will receive treatment, and to have information made available to support your choices.

Waiting Times

Although the NHS provides sterling health care, waiting times can be anything up to a year. This waitlist is a significant reason why people turn to private health care. Anyone in pain and a state of unwellness will naturally want to minimise the time spent waiting for treatment. Recent reports state that over 400,000 patients are currently on some form of a waiting list in the NHS, with waiting time targets increasingly being missed in some areas.

Comfort

Going private means waving goodbye to noisy and chaotic mixed wards. No more beige buffets and wrinkly grapes, weak tea and cardboard biscuits. No more laying on a trolley in the corridor waiting for beds to become available.

In a private hospital, you can enjoy all the comfort of a 4-star hotel. Private hospitals provide spacious, relaxing and high-quality rooms; usually with an ensuite bathroom. You’ll benefit from a better standard and selection of food, plus non-restricted visitation hours, which means the comfort and strength you can gain from having your loved ones around you, isn’t limited to a few hours at the beginning and end of the day.

Extent Of Treatment

The NHS is home to a world-leading array of highly trained, specialised medical experts from all over the globe. Their depth of collective experience is impossible to match on a smaller scale. Because of this, you may find you are advised to stick to NHS treatment for some rarer, or hard to treat illnesses and ailments, as the private sector simply cannot match the collective level of expertise that the NHS could provide you. However, because of budgetary constraints, the NHS is sometimes unable to pay for the specialist drugs and treatments that patients require, due to their high cost. Private healthcare, on the other hand, will guarantee you the best treatments and medications available, but at a cost.

What You Can Expect From Basic Private Medical Insurance Coverage:

• You’ll get a pleasant and peaceful private room in a hospital.

• You’ll receive continuity of nursing and medical care, with the same practitioners where possible.

• Operating theatre fees are covered

• Costs that may arise due to complications are covered.

• You’ll be provided with all the prescription drugs you need, no matter how niche, and any dressings needed during and post-treatment.

Cost

Price is the principal rationale for people staying with the NHS; it grants free medical care to millions of people, all year round. However, it is stretched to breaking point. So, while the NHS is a free service, it is grossly underfunded to the point that people needing help can be left waiting for treatment for up to a year.

Private healthcare costs vary, depending on your level of cover. Whether you choose to utilise  ‘pay as you go’ options will also have an impact on pricing. The bottom line is, with private healthcare, you will be seen by a doctor very quickly, and treated to a very high standard.

For example; If you’re a 50-year old non-smoker with £500 deductible excess, on a full outpatient plan – your average monthly premium is likely to be around £88.  Costs can vary on a ‘pay as you go’ basis depending on your level of treatment.

If you’re financially savvy, there are ways to make private healthcare more affordable;

  • Have an excess. The higher the excess you can afford to pay, the cheaper your monthly payments will become. This excess means that during hospitalisation, you pay the pre-agreed amount on your bill, and then your insurance company will cover the surplus for the full premium year. With £250 excess, your premiums will be roughly 10% cheaper. You’ll have to pay the excess again as the next premium year commences.
  • Go for the six-week wait option. This option means that you consent to use the NHS should the waiting time for the NHS service in question be less than six weeks. If the waiting time exceeds six weeks, you will receive immediate private care. This option is a sound one because most NHS waiting lists are significantly more than six weeks. By taking this option, you can reduce your premiums by around 20%.
  • Decrease the number of hospitals where you agree to receive treatment. A reduced hospital list, with some plans, means you can choose hospitals that are close to where you live. By choosing a reduced list you are consenting to receive treatment on a private ward in an NHS hospital. This simple choice may give you a 20% reduction on your premium.

In A Nutshell

The level of care you receive through the NHS or private healthcare shouldn’t differ. All healthcare providers have dedicated their lives to providing the highest level of care for all patients. Unfortunately, factors surrounding both private healthcare and the NHS can create vastly different experiences.

While the NHS has provided, and still maintains its title as the world’s largest publicly funded health service, it is struggling for funding. Stretched to almost breaking point, although doing its best to continue serving the country, it can only do so much. Private healthcare, on the other hand, is paid for by yourself, so you should expect the highest standards, quickest turnaround times, and best treatments available. Private healthcare is an excellent choice if you are suffering from an acute illness which is curable in a short time. Without lengthy waiting lists to contend with, you could be up, well, and living your best life again within weeks.

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