People in the UK have always had divided opinions when it comes to private healthcare. Some maintain that the government provided health care system should be improved for everyone. This would eradicate the need for private hospitals. The same critics argue that private hospitals are a way for the wealthy to get superior treatment at the taxpayer's expense; since most of the healthcare professionals in the UK have been trained in state-funded colleges and universities. Some maintain that the doctors and nurses should, therefore, be working for the NHS rather than private institutions. Others view private healthcare as a blessing rather than a problem why should those who can afford a higher quality service not be allowed to pay for it?
Despite the economic slowdown it seems that increasing numbers of people are willing to pay for private healthcare. The number and size of private hospitals in London keeps growing, and patients clearly find the services to provide value for money. Even some patients using the NHS are choosing privately provided treatment over state-owned hospitals when its available to them. A recent study by the BBC shows that the NHS has been paying private healthcare providers to treat increasing numbers of its own patients.
England's patient choice scheme, which began four years ago, gives NHS patients the opportunity to have private treatment if it costs the same price as the NHS treatment. Last year there was a 60% increase in patients who opted for the private service offered to them. A significant number of these were patients from the biggest area of the NHS London. So why are private hospitals chosen over the NHS by so many people? The primary selling point for most private hospitals in London is that they have a much larger amount of time for each individual patient than some NHS facilities. The money spent by a patient guarantees that they will be handled like a real person, and not a statistic. The dreaded waiting room experience that can be so typical of the NHS is unheard of in many of Londons private hospitals and the speed of the service is also a factor that influences a patient's decision. Instead of being given an appointment wherever possible, patients often decide when their appointments are. Perhaps more importantly, patients decide exactly who they have their consultation appointment is with. When it comes to urgent surgery it is clear that people want treatment as quickly as is possible, as opposed to waiting for up to forty two weeks for the same procedure on the NHS. However as far as more complex problems are concerned, private hospitals sometimes have longer waiting lists than the NHS.
As a response to media coverage on the NHS taking a lax approach to hygiene standards, cleanliness has never been more relevant for patients trying to decide over which service to choose. In London most private hospitals provide their patients with rooms that are spotless. The extra bonuses such as Sky TV and wine with your meals may sound trivial and in some cases unnecessary, but it is often the less significant factors that make all the difference if you are so unfortunate that you have to spend a prolonged period of time in hospital. In particular this is relevant when for patients admitted for mental health problems. Currently the private sector delivers over 20% of all mental health treatment. That figure, combined with the amount of NHS patients who choose private treatment for other illnesses, is growing. It appears that private hospitals personal touch is extremely important to treating mental health issues. This is supported by the fact that over 80% of all brain injuries are cared for in private facilities. Contrary to all the pros of private healthcare, there was historically always one downside which totally eclipses all the positives: the cost. However the patient choice scheme has demonstrated that private treatment is actually not as costly as you might have thought. Clearly there are still large numbers of procedures which will never be on the market at NHS prices. However an example of a comparable cost is on average, a Hip Replacement provided by the NHS is somewhere between s7500 and s13450. This rises for private treatment in London, where the same procedure will cost you between s9612 and s13450. Despite the reality which is that many find these figures off-putting, others argue that good health is priceless. On top of this you have more peace of mind because you know that you are being treated at the highest global standard. The cost of private hospitals can appear extravagant to those who cant afford it, but as the NHS is put under more pressure to save by the government, private treatment in London can provide a welcome alternative for everyone