We accept and understand that some patients will choose to have some or all of their care needs provided by a private consultant or clinic.
NHS guidance states:
- It should always be clear whether an individual procedure or treatment is privately funded, or NHS funded.
- Private and NHS care should be kept as clearly separate as possible.
- The patient should bear the full costs of any private services. NHS resources should never be used to subsidise the use of private care.
- The arrangements put in place to deliver additional private care should be designed to ensure as clear a separation as possible of funding, legal status, liability and accountability between NHS care and any private care that a patient receives.
Your right to NHS care does not change if you access private services however, in the majority of circumstances we are not able to undertake the work requested by private clinicians. There are a number of reasons for this:
- We rely on our Integrated Care Board (ICB) to commission specialist services.
- Your GP is not trained or sufficiently experienced to deal with specialist diagnosis and management.
- Where there may be shortfalls in specialist service provision, we will not put our patients at risk by trying to fill any deficiencies.
- We are unable to review every private clinic or individual and be assured that they provide a high quality service.
- We are unable to determine that appropriate follow up and ongoing specialist care is in place at private clinics, should any complications arise during treatment.
- We do not have the capacity to meet additional demand from the private sector or fill deficiencies that may exist in locally or nationally commissioned specialist services.
Patient Referrals for Private Services
If you choose to seek private treatment, you can self-refer. However, some private consultants will only see patients that have a referral from a GP.
If a private provider or insurer requests a GP referral, the private company can be charged because this would be classed as non-NHS work.
If a private provider requires medical information about you, you can provide copies of hospital letters received or share your records via the NHS App or online medical records system. You can also make a Subject Access Request to obtain a printed summary of your medical record free of charge.
If a private provider requests more information, this can be provided following patient consent. The cost of preparing the report can be charged to the private provider.
Pre and post-operative Private Care
In most cases patients will have purchased a “package of care” from a private provider which includes pre and post-operative investigations, treatment and care. In these cases, we will not provide pre or post-operative investigations, care or treatment and you will need to return to your private provider.
If you become unwell following private care or whilst receiving private treatment, you will need to return to your provider for assistance. If you are unable to access care from your private provider and there is a serious unforeseen risk to your health, the practice will provide immediate treatment to ensure your safety.
If we receive requests from a private provider or patient to arrange tests or investigations for private treatment, complying with these requests is outside the scope of NHS primary medical services.
If you have self-referred to a private provider or if a private provider has insisted on a primary care referral, the practice will not carry out any work-up investigations. These will need to be undertaken by the private provider.
Once you are under the care of a private provider, any monitoring or investigations needed as part of your care must to be carried out by the private provider as part of that package of care. We will not undertake monitoring or investigations on behalf of private providers.
Once a package of private care has been completed, the practice may offer ongoing investigations that would be considered necessary under the NHS. An example would be longer term B12 monitoring blood test post bariatric surgery.
Prescribing of medication
NHS guidance is in place for the prescribing of medication on the basis of patient safety. A traffic light system is used to determine responsibility for prescribing of drugs initiated in primary care and secondary care.
The category that your medication falls into will determine if it will be prescribed by the practice. It will also depend if the practice agrees with the treatment plan being suggested by a provider or external clinician.
- Green drugs – Whether private or NHS recommended, we can prescribe green drugs if the medication is licensed for the indication given. All prescribing is at the discretion of the prescriber and there may be circumstances where the prescriber is not in agreement with the treatment plan. If this is the case, we reserve the right to decline prescribing medications and an explanation will be provided.
- Amber drugs – These are specialist drugs that must be initiated by secondary care specialist prescribers. We will not prescribe any amber drugs at the request of a private provider.
- Red drugs – These drugs are for hospital use or for use by a specialist within a specialist centre only. Initiation, ongoing prescribing and monitoring of treatment should remain under the total responsibility of the hospital clinician or specialist. We will not prescribe any medications from the red drug list, whether requested by an NHS provider or private specialist
Transferring your care from Private to NHS Provider
We can refer patients to NHS secondary care specialties when appropriate. Waiting times vary considerably depending on the NHS specialty.
While you are waiting for your NHS secondary care appointment, you will need to obtain medication and continue receiving care from your private provider.
Any other new physical or psychological medical issues that arise can be managed under standard NHS care.
Private providers can make referrals to NHS services without referral back to the GP, provided the patient would be eligible for NHS referral.
Travelling abroad for private treatment or surgery
The UK Government, the NHS and some patient support groups advise that patients accessing treatment abroad must be clear how aftercare will be coordinated and provided after their treatment or surgery, and that patients may be responsible for costs of the aftercare and possible return trips associated with aftercare.
Patients who have paid for surgery abroad have a responsibility to review and plan for all points in the recommended treatment abroad checklist.
Patients can choose to buy a standalone package of post-operative care through a UK independent sector provider, or other non-UK provider. It is important to understand how medical treatment abroad works and what risks are involved. If you do not follow correct procedures, you may have to pay the full costs of your treatment. You can find more information online.
Please be reassured that NHS emergency services are available should any emergency treatment be required because of any issues arising from your treatment or surgery abroad.