Private hospitals in the UK: What are the main hospital groups?

If you've ever considered choosing private healthcare, you've probably wondered where you can get treatment. We look at what you can expect from a private hospital in the UK and introduce you to some of the main providers.

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What are the benefits of having treatment in a private hospital?

Whether you choose to be treated in an NHS or private hospital, you'll receive high-quality care. NHS patients can choose where they want to be treated and which consultant they want to see, and they have the same options as private patients.

However, there are some advantages to choosing a private hospital for your care.

Shorter waiting times

Although NHS waiting times are beginning to fall, over 300,000 NHS patients have waited more than a year for treatment. Waiting times for private patients are typically much shorter, as private hospitals can usually arrange an appointment and follow-up care much more quickly.

You can often book an initial consultation on the hospital website to choose a convenient time.

Cutting-edge technology and medication

Private hospitals and healthcare providers typically have big budgets and invest heavily in new technology and medications that may not yet be available to NHS patients. Therefore, you can benefit from a wider range of treatments as a private patient.

A private room

Private hospitals often have hotel-style facilities; every patient gets a private room to rest and recover after surgery. As a private patient, you can usually expect to have an ensuite bathroom, telephone and TV, so you may feel like you're spending a few days in a luxury resort.

Chef-prepared meals

Private hospitals extend the hotel experience to the food they serve to patients. Most private hospitals employ professional chefs and offer a restaurant-style a la carte menu.

If your visitors arrive at dinner time, you may also be able to invite them to join you for a meal.

Flexible visiting hours

All hospitals must ensure that their patients have quiet time to receive aftercare and to aid their recovery. However, as every patient has a private room, hospitals can usually be more flexible around visiting hours as your visitors are less likely to disturb other patients.

How to arrange treatment at a private hospital

If the idea of being treated at a private hospital appeals to you, you're likely wondering how to arrange it. The process varies slightly depending on how your care is funded, but the steps are broadly similar.

Choose your hospital

If you're self-funding, you'll have a free choice of hospital. You can look at specialist consultants in your area and which hospital they use. Alternatively, find out which private hospitals are available in your area and check their reviews and facilities. If you have private medical insurance, you'll need to check which private hospitals insured patients can use.

You can find more advice on choosing a consultant here.

Check whether you need a referral

You can often book an initial consultation directly with the hospital. However, some private hospitals will ask to see a referral letter before seeing you. Most private medical insurance providers offer referrals via virtual GP services, or you may need to see your NHS GP first.

Arrange an appointment

When you've chosen your hospital, you can usually book an appointment on their website or over the phone. Some private healthcare providers ask you to complete an online contact form and then contact you to arrange your appointment.

You'll then have an initial consultation to discuss your care and arrange follow-up treatments or diagnostic tests if needed.

Receive a fixed-fee quote

Most private hospitals can provide fixed-fee quotes for surgery. Quotes should include all relevant costs, including accommodation, medication, staffing, and aftercare. Always ask if you have any questions about what is and isn't included.

Book your treatment

If you're happy with the quote, you can book your treatment. This can sometimes take place within a few days or a couple of weeks. You'll need to pay a deposit to confirm your treatment date, and the hospital will invoice you for the balance after surgery. They'll also send information to help you prepare.

How much will treatment in a private hospital cost?

Private hospitals charge different amounts for treatments due to various factors. Two of the most significant factors are a hospital's location and the type of treatment needed. However, how much a hospital invests in facilities and equipment also impacts costs. Highly experienced consultants will charge more than junior ones.

The type of treatment you need

Private hospitals offer a range of treatments, and the type of surgery you need will impact your price. Complex operations such as shoulder, hip or knee replacements are the most expensive, costing between £13,000 and £14,500 on average. More straightforward procedures, including colonoscopies, carpal tunnel release and cataract surgery, are cheaper, with average prices between £2,000 and £3,000.

It's worth remembering that these are average costs, and what you pay will vary depending on your chosen hospital.

The hospital's location

Where your hospital is will impact costs as rents and staffing costs vary throughout the UK. Private hospitals in London typically have the highest prices, followed closely by Manchester and Birmingham. Costs tend to be higher in major cities, so it's worth getting quotes from several hospitals in your area to compare prices.

What are the leading private hospital groups in the UK?

Most private hospitals are part of a larger hospital group with several facilities throughout the UK. There are also some excellent independent hospitals which are worth investigating if there are any in your area.

Here's our guide to the UK's main private hospital groups and their services.

Circle Health

Circle Health runs 54 private hospitals across the UK, meaning you'll likely find one that is local to you. They pride themselves on investing in new technologies and centring care around patients' needs.


Circle Health offers a range of treatments, including surgery, diagnostic tests and rehabilitation at a purpose-built facility. They provide 55 different types of care, so you'll likely find the specialism you need.

They provide various surgeries, including ENT surgery, cosmetic and weight loss surgery, and hip, knee, and shoulder replacements. Patients can access treatments for allergies, skin conditions, and gynaecological issues. Their women's health offering also includes fertility treatment.


Circle Health gathers reviews via Trustpilot, which gives it a sub-par 2.3* rating from 161 reviews.

Good reviews mention excellent medical care and good food. Negatives include poor customer service and unclear information about what issues consultants and their private GP service can help with.

Booking an appointment

You can book an initial appointment with a specialist via Circle Health's website. Their booking page lets you search for a particular specialism and use your postcode or search for a named hospital.

Alternatively, you can call them on 0808 296 4720.


HCA started in America and came to the UK in 1995. Their private hospitals are mainly based in London, Manchester, and Birmingham, with some standalone facilities and private units in NHS hospitals. Their costs are typically higher than those of other private hospitals, mainly because of their location.


HCA's services include surgery, therapies and a private GP service. They also run urgent care centres, which is rare for a private provider.

Their services include surgeries, physiotherapy, diagnostic tests, and scans.


HCA has over 31,000 reviews on its website, which are verified by Doctify and appear to be largely positive. Unfortunately, it's not possible to search by treatment type, but you can read other patients' stories here.

Booking an appointment

HCA's website lets you search by hospital name or type of treatment to find suitable consultants. You can filter your results by hospital but not postcode, so you should first check which hospital is closest to you.

When you've found your preferred consultant, you can click through to complete an appointment request form or get the hospital's phone number. Alternatively, you can call their general enquiry line on 020 3993 6387.

Nuffield Health

Nuffield Health runs 37 private hospitals across the UK and also operates fitness centres. They aim to assess new patients within 48 hours of a GP referral and provide appointments for tests, if needed, within another 48 hours. They also say that most procedures can be carried out within two weeks of a diagnosis, making them a great choice if you want treatment quickly.


Nuffield Health's services include surgery, physiotherapy, mental health support and health assessments. You can search for a range of treatments on their website.


Nuffield Health's 2,350 Trustpilot reviews give them a 3.2* rating.

There's a fairly even split between 5* and 1*. Positive reviews highly rate their health management programs, physiotherapy, and in-patient care. Negative reviews mainly describe poor customer service.

Booking an appointment

You can book your first consultation on Nuffield Health's website by searching for a consultant using various filters, including hospital location, specialism, and treatment type. Each specialist has a page with further information and available appointments, or you can ask a question.

Alternatively, you can call Nuffield on 0300 13 11 416.

Practice Plus Group

Practice Plus Group operates private hospitals across England and works in partnership with the NHS. Its facilities include hospitals, surgical centres, and a specialist diagnostics centre in High Wycombe that provides MRI scans and ultrasound-guided injections.


Practice Plus Group provides various diagnostic services and treatments, including spinal surgery, weight loss treatment, and endoscopy. It focuses mainly on surgical treatments rather than out-patient care.


Practice Plus gathers verified reviews via Doctify, which collects reviews separately for each hospital rather than the company as a whole. We looked at reviews for Emerson Green Hospital in Bristol, which received a 4.67 patient trust score out of 5 and described excellent medical care, superb customer service, and friendly staff. Reviews for the Southampton Hospital gave a 4.42 patient trust score and praised the quality of care but raised some issues with the waiting times for follow-up appointments.

Booking an appointment

The booking system on Practice Plus Group's website is straightforward. To enquire about private treatment, you can either call Practice Plus Group on 0330 818 9933 or complete the enquiry form on their website.

Ramsay Health

Ramsay Health is one of the UK's lesser-known private hospital groups, but it has been around since 1968. It focuses on providing high-quality, patient-focused care that your chosen consultant leads. Every patient is allocated a private patient manager whose job is to keep you updated at every stage of your treatment.

Most private hospitals provide fixed-price treatment quotes, but Ramsay Health goes further and will try to price match lower quotes from other private hospitals.


Ramsay Health offers a wide range of options for various conditions. Non-surgical treatments include physiotherapy, nutrition advice and pain management. Their psychology service provides counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy. You can also access various surgeries, including orthopaedics, hernia repair and paediatric surgeries.

Ramsay Health also provides private GP appointments and a sports injury service that encompasses various therapies, surgery, and injury prevention advice.


Ramsay Health has a 2.6* rating from 77 reviews on Trustpilot. Negative reviews mention poor care, inefficient communication, and poor customer service, while positive reviews describe excellent medical care. The quality of care described varies between hospitals, so we'd suggest searching for a specific facility if you check reviews.

Booking an appointment

You can have your first consultation in person, via video, or by phone. We recommend searching for your nearest hospital, as Ramsay Health's contact form asks you to specify which hospital you want to contact. You can enquire about treatment and select your preferred method of contact.

If you prefer to call, Ramsay Health's phone number is 0808 304 6151.

Spire Healthcare

Spire's treatment centres include 39 hospitals and eight clinics. They treat private patients and have a cooperative agreement with the NHS so NHS patients and staff can use their facilities.

They aim to offer appointments within 48 hours of your initial enquiry.


Whichever type of care you need, you'll likely find it at a Spire hospital. They provide diagnostic tests and scans, physical therapies and men's and women's health services. Spire also offers top-to-toe surgeries, from eye surgery to ankle replacements.

Booking an appointment

You can book a consultation with your preferred consultant using the search page on Spire's website. The search function lets you look for a named consultant or search by specialism with your postcode. From there, you can choose a consultant and visit their page to book your consultation.

There's also an information page with details on funding, where you can complete an enquiry form to request a callback from your local hospital. Finally, you can use the 'Contact Us' page to find your local hospital's telephone number if you prefer to make contact that way.

Getting professional advice

MyTribe guides explain private healthcare so you can learn more about your options. If you'd like to explore investing in private health insurance, a specialist broker can provide advice tailored to your needs. Contact us for a comparison quote, and we'll connect you with a regulated broker.

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

Chris Steele
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.

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