Self-funding can be a smart way to a swift hospital appointment but, with more and more treatments advertised, the choice can feel overwhelming. However, with some careful research and consideration it is possible to find the right private hospital or clinic to help.
There are lots of reasons why choosing to self-fund a medical treatment or procedure might be the best approach for your circumstances. Everything from diagnostic procedures, like MRI, X-rays or colonoscopies to surgical procedures such as knee replacements or weight loss surgery can be self-funded.
The three main reasons tend to be:
1) because you don’t have private medical insurance
2) you do but the particular treatment you are considering is not included in the policy
3) you’re worried about the waiting list on the NHS
Whatever the reason, the first step to finding a healthcare provider is to research who offers the treatment you are considering. You can then compare the benefits of each to decide whose offering will work best for you.
Firstly look into the hospital’s CQC ratings. Just like OFSTED for schools, the CQC regulates care services and rates them on if they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. All hospitals are rated either Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate, and a report from the last inspection should be available for you to read. https://www.cqc.org.uk/what-we-do/services-we-regulate/find-hospital
Most hospitals will be open about who their specialist consultants are, meaning you can also check to make sure their consultants are highly qualified and fully experienced in your chosen procedure. Websites such as My NHS offer a public record of surgeons’ success rates ( https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/performance/search#performance ) and iwantgreatcare also has public reviews by previous patients (https://www.iwantgreatcare.org/doctors/ )
Another consideration is convenience. Whether it’s a minimally invasive procedure that means your recovery time is reduced; ease of parking; being near friends and family or the ease of travel to a particular location, it’s worth thinking about how each hospital on your shortlist could make things that bit easier during treatment and recovery.
Does the treatment offer value for money? As the old adage says, you get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean paying over the odds. Enquire what the package on offer may include, such as initial consultations, follow up appointments, physiotherapy etc. or if the treatment is a fixed price. If your treatment is more complex and your quote needs to be tailored, ask what is included or what additional costs may be ahead of time so you have a clear expectation of your final outlay.
If you know someone who has had the same procedure, by all means pick their brains to get the inside track on their experience, but, if you don’t already know someone, check the hospital’s social media channels and websites to see if they have any testimonials available. Or call to see if they are able to put you in touch with a previous patient. This can be greatly reassuring and offer an honest experience about what to expect if you go ahead.
Finally, if you are able to, you might like to visit the hospitals to get a sense of the place. Whether it’s for an initial consultation, an open event or just to pop in and have a cup of tea in the café, visiting can offer a sense of the atmosphere and attitude of a hospital and the staff in addition to that gained from websites and brochures.
If you are unsure what kind of treatment you feel you need a GP appointment, either NHS or private, should always be the first port of call to get a professional opinion as, just as it’s a bad idea to share medicines, it can be a bad idea to presume you need the same treatment as a friend or relative without consultation from a professional. Whilst some private treatments don’t need a referral from a GP, many do require one and it can be the first step towards a happier, healthier you.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Benenden Hospital then visit them on their Open Day, 7 October 11-4pm.