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Private vs. NHS

Private vs. NHSWould you go private if you needed medical treatment?
Despite the availability of free healthcare through the National Health Service, thousands of patients opt for private care every year.


There are a number of differences between private health services and the NHS, which will affect a patient’s decision on how to be treated. These include the care environment, waiting lists, the types of equipment available and the emergency procedures that can be carried out.

The surroundings

The hospital or clinic setting can be a big deciding factor in where patients receive healthcare. Generally, private hospitals tend to be new and patients will have their own private room with an en-suite bathroom. There is often a greater choice of food in private hospitals.

Waiting lists

Because of the huge demand on the NHS there tend to be long waiting lists for free treatment. As a result, patients are increasingly turning to private healthcare institutions in order to be treated more quickly.

In some areas, the NHS is even paying to refer their patients to private practices to help manage their caseload.

Access to equipment

Sometimes the NHS can offer a greater choice of equipment than the private sector because it has the funding needed for many treatments and procedures. Private hospitals may struggle to purchase or loan all the screening equipment they need to offer a full service.

Emergency procedures

The private sector has little scope to perform immediate life-saving operations but it may be able to carry out semi-urgent procedures depending on the surgeon’s availability and amount of theatre time available.

The NHS is highly equipped to manage any form of emergency surgery which all residents of the UK are entitled to receive. This does not affect your private status whilst undergoing any other treatment that your do receive in the private sector.

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