Given the prevalence of the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K., it can be easy to forget that an increasing number of patients are looking to private healthcare for their needs. This is done for a plethora of reasons including personalised care, convenience and ease of access, and greater choice in who provides services. This is especially the case in private GP services with demand increasing. A significant factor in this shift is due to the rise in NHS GP waiting times getting longer thus delaying addressing healthcare needs.
With respect to the services offered, a private GP is similar to a routine NHS GP. Being a general practitioner, they are often the first step in diagnosing and treating any illness or conditions – whether acute or chronic. The key difference between a private GP and an NHS GP is that private GPs (as the name implies) often work in independently run private clinics and hospitals. Access to such services is also limited with membership, payment, or medical insurance being required – in the case of insurance this is commonly given by an employer through a company-wide insurance plan. This method of access is in contrast to the NHS which is generally free at the point of use.
While the service provided might not differ from a strictly healthcare perspective, there are several tangible benefits to using private gp services. As mentioned above, with NHS wait times rising, there is a greater desire for services that are able to deliver a fast and efficient service. Certain private GPs are able to offer virtual and same-day appointments – this is in stark contrast to the NHS with waiting times often being weeks instead of days.
When combining the speed at which it is possible to see a private GP with the rest of a private service, it becomes a much more streamlined way of taking care of your medical needs. In addition to fast response times, with access to specialists in various health domains, a private route can often be the most effective way to get maladies diagnosed at the earliest possible stage and tests completed with fast turnover for results.
An often overlooked aspect of using a private GP is the greater flexibility the service enables. On one level this means that patients are not constrained by time slots and instead can pick a greater range of times and days to accommodate other commitments. At another level this flexibility means there is greater choice over who oversees your care.
In short, private GP services are an alternative to the NHS GPs provided. In terms of healthcare provided, there is little difference with both being the first point of call in understanding any health issues. The main differences concern access and the ease of availability in the service being offered.