About private healthcare
Private Healthcare can be an attractive alternative to using the NHS, as patients will generally be seen quicker and have far greater flexibility over their treatment. That said, it isn’t cheap, which is why many people look to purchase Private Health Insurance which covers the cost of many private treatments.
Benefits of private healthcare
There are a number of significant benefits that being treated privately can offer:
- Avoid NHS waiting times, be seen, diagnosed and treated quickly.
- Access treatments and drugs which may not be available on the NHS.
- Receive results of tests and scans quickly.
- Get more choice over the specialist that treats you.
- Have greater flexibility over where you’re treated.
- Stay in a private room, with more flexible visitor hours.
Benefits of private healthcare as explained by Bernie Creaven, Executive Director of BMI Healthcare.
NHS Patient Choice Programme
The NHS recognises that patient choice is extremely important and it therefore has a dedicated programme aimed at improving the communication of the available options to patients. You can ask your GP about treatment via private healthcare, and they should be able to help you make an informed decision as to whether it is appropriate in your circumstances.
Private hospitals and health insurance
If you’ve read our guide to the best health insurance in the UK, you’ll know that private healthcare is crucial to health insurance claims. Private health insurance relies on modern private hospitals to provide the treatments they cover in every policy.
Every private health insurance provider has its own hospital directory or list, which is a collection of hospitals which they will allow you to receive treatment at, as outlined in your insurance policy. This list tends to be exclusive to the insurer, although most standard policies will allow you to access the largest hospital providers such as Nuffield, Spire, Ramsay, BMI and Circle Health. It isn't always the case though, so be sure to confirm this with your insurer or check with us.
To access more extensive hospital directories, such as those based in London and HCA hospitals, your insurer may allow you to receive treatment for an additional policy premium. You should also bear in mind insurers may update their hospital list throughout the year, adding or removing to their standard directory.
If you’re in doubt or would like a helping hand, we’d be happy to work with you and advise on the hospitals that you’d benefit from accessing for your needs.
Private Healthcare providers in the UK
There are a variety of Private Healthcare providers across the UK, some of which specialise in certain conditions, with others offering a broad range of medical services. In this section, we provide an overview of four of the leading providers, where their hospitals are and what they are best known for.
One of the best known Private Healthcare providers in the UK, Nuffield Health is a not-for-profit charity, which invests its income back into improving the nation's health. They currently have 31 hospitals and over 100 fitness and wellbeing clubs across the UK. They work with the NHS, private medical insurers, employers and the public to provide health and wellbeing services.
Spire Healthcare has 39 private hospitals across the UK and provides a large range of treatments, from cancer and cardiac care, through to diagnostic scans, tests and investigations. An award-winning provider, Spire Healthcare are committed to providing high-quality care to the UK.
BMI Healthcare started in 1970 and today has 54 private hospitals and clinics throughout the UK. Offering over 500 different treatments, they have centres of excellence for cancer, spinal, orthopaedic, neuro and cardiac care. According to their website, as of 2020, they handle over 296,000 inpatient and 1,700,000 outpatient visits each year.
HCA operates six world-class private hospitals across London and the Christie Private Care Hospital in Manchester. Due to location and their first-class facilities, healthcare at these hospitals tend to cost more than with some of the other providers mentioned.
Ramsay Healthcare has a network of 33 private hospitals in England, which provide a comprehensive range of clinical services to over 200,000 people per annum and employing over 5,000 people.
Other providers of private healthcare
In addition to the four providers we’ve mentioned, there are numerous others that provide excellent services to their patients. We always encourage people to research the providers themselves, we’re more than happy to share what we know, but you’re more likely to discover things that are pertinent to you.