What is private healthcare?

Private healthcare is provided by the independent sector. It allows you to choose where and when you are treated.

Do I need a referral from my GP to access private healthcare?

No, you do not need to get a referral from your GP to receive private treatment, although this is preferable.

How much does private healthcare cost?

This is hugely variable. The NHS does not subsidise any of the costs of private healthcare and funding can be through self-pay, private medical insurance or through workplace health schemes.

What should I look out for?

  • Check that those services and professionals that are not required to be registered, are included in an accredited register 
  • Find out how providers compare with other services you may be interested in by searching on the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN)
  • Find out whether they are a member of the trade association, the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations (AIHO) 
  • Find out whether they are subscribers to the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS)
  • Discuss your treatment options with your GP and find out what is available for future NHS treatment
  • Check you have funding or private medical insurance to cover the treatment cost, including any unexpected additional costs
  • Ensure that you understand the charging process
  • Private healthcare providers set their own fees and charges. Make sure to do your research to find out what the average charges are for treatment
  • If you have a private medical insurance policy, you should check your policy for specific details and ensure that any investigations and treatment are authorised before proceeding
  • In an emergency, your private healthcare specialist has a legal duty to take care of you. Find out what the arrangements are and how you will be advised about changes to the cost of your on-going care.

What if something goes wrong?

The Independent Healthcare Sector Complaints and Adjudication Service (ISCAS) have a guide for patients wishing to make a complaint in the independent healthcare sector. 

For template letters please click below:

How to make a complaint about a GP surgery

How to make a complaint to a hospital

Find more help and information leaflets