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Will Private Treatment Affect NHS Care?

Surgeons treating a patient in theatre

The short answer to the question above is no. You have the right to choose private treatment at any time you wish, without affecting your rights as an NHS patient.

If you opt for a private consultation before deciding on private, or NHS care, your position on an NHS waiting list would not be affected. The same applies if you have private treatment for one condition, then develop another.

NHS care remains available free of charge for UK citizens, a fundamental right which is not altered because you decided to take a different path on one occasion.

Imagine you were renting a home and the boiler broke down but rather than wait for your landlord, you paid for repair, or were covered under your energy deal. Using outside help would not affect the right to support on future repairs.

Degrees Of Separation

NHS guidance confirms that NHS care will continue free of charge if you pay for private treatment. This does however state there must be as clear a separation as possible, between your private and NHS treatment.

There are exceptions but in general, private care should be provided at a different place and time. Neither can you mix and match in an operational sense.

If for example you were having a knee replacement and chose to use the NHS but wanted to buy a different replacement joint, this is unlikely to be allowed.

There can be situations where treatment is mixed and may be supervised by one healthcare team but in essence, each episode of care should be viewed as separate.

Why Make The Choice

There are overlaps between private and NHS care, both are regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission, consultants and other staff may work within both.

When your GP refers you for NHS treatment, you generally have a right to choose a service provider, or hospital. The New Foscote Hospital carries out a range of treatment for referred NHS patients.

People choose private treatment for individual reasons, location of care, overall standard of care, greater privacy, or often for faster treatment.

As the BMA state, waiting list problems existed before Covid, although this did worsen the position. The number of people choosing to pay for private care has risen by around a third since 2019.

The Right To Private Care

We live in a society with a fair degree of freedom and this includes how your body, health and life are cared for. With a few legal exceptions, accepting NHS care is up to you, as is a decision to use a private hospital.

That your right to NHS care is unaffected is good news and makes sense. Our national care system is funded by all of us, so should remain available.

The key point is that except in rare cases, you are free to make a choice on treatment and a different choice in future. If you are close to The New Foscote hospital, by all means see more on the departments available at a private hospital.

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