The practice understand that patients may, for various reasons, wish to be referred for private medical care. The following guidance is provided to assist patients in understanding the process and the implications of their decision.

Referral to Private Health Care

Consultants will not normally see new patients privately without a referral from their GP.

GP’s asked to refer patients for private health care will provide a referral letter in a timely manner however patients should note that the urgency with which the referral is made should be according to medical need only.

It is not the practice policy to recommend particular hospitals or consultants and patients should research this carefully prior to making thier choice.

Cost of Private Health Care

In the same way that patients have rights and responsibilities when using the NHS, they also have privileges and consequences attached to receiving private health care.

The most obvious consequence of receiving private health care is the cost attached which may be considerable. The costs do not simply cover the doctor’s time but the whole infrastructure supporting the private health service including the provision of staff premises and any investigations or procedures undertaken. Patients are advised to seek full information on all potential costs prior to the start of treatment.

Prescribing for Patients Receiving Private Treatment.

When patients seek specialist treatment privately, the private consultant may prescribe any necessary medication. Often, consultants recommend a particular medication and patients ask their GP to issue an NHS prescription rather than paying for it privately.

Where the GP considers that the medication recommended is clinically necessary:

  • he or she is required under the NHS terms of service to prescribe that medication within the NHS however
  • If the medication is specialised in nature and is not something GP's would generally prescribe, it is for the individual GP to decide whether to accept clinical responsibility for the prescribing decision recommended by another doctor. The same principles apply to requests to undertake diagnostic tests or procedures within the NHS.

This may also apply to patients receiving private treatment which they may not be eligible for under the NHS.

In these cases patients are advised to consider all requirements of their private treatment in advance of this starting. In addition and to ensure that GP's are able to make fully informed clinical decisions it may be necessary for GP's to be given all information in relation to the treatment received privately and where necessary a proper communication between the consultant and the GP about the diagnosis or other reason for the proposed plan of management including any proposed medication.

Returning to NHS Care.

Patients who are opting to use private health care are entitled to withdraw from this care at any stage and return to NHS treatment. The fact that they have been treated privately in the past will neither advantage nor disadvantage any patient in their receipt of NHS care.

Patients should bear in mind that the level of treatment provided privately may not be provided on the NHS.

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