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Consultant appointment in NHS 3 months, 1 month private

(126 Posts)
Mawmac Tue 05-Sep-23 14:35:06

Should I just accept that this is life now, or am I right to feel upset?
I have had a health issue for nearly 5 years, but as symptoms settled, agreed with my consultant to monitor via an annual scan and follow up telephone consultation. The last scan was in April, I had a letter confirming no change and advising me of a telephone consultation at the end of November. I have never seen, or been examined by, a hospital specialist.
However, my symptoms returned 3 weeks ago and are severe at times, so, I contacted the consultant's secretary. She informed me that my appointment is the first available and to contact my GP if problems persist.
After discussion with my DH, I checked our nearest private hospital, to find that the same consultant could see me privately, in person, nearly 2 months sooner.
I know that most consultants now work in both NHS and private practice and I am not unsympathetic to the strains of working in the NHS, but this seems tragic to me.
There are other consultants who specialise in the same field, so an option would be to see one of them, but the issue remains.
I can afford the £200 fee, but many people in my position cannot. If I opt to go "private" am I further undermining our struggling NHS?

Jaxjacky Tue 05-Sep-23 14:50:51

I would consult your GP as advised.

SuzieHi Tue 05-Sep-23 14:52:01

Maybe try phoning the consultant’s secretary again & asking if there have been any cancellations ? Tell them you’re receptive to any appointments earlier than yours… worked for me recently. Appointment brought forward a month. Phoned again & brought into the next week.

sodapop Tue 05-Sep-23 14:55:33

You are not undermining the NHS Mawmac and its entirely up to you how you spend your money. If it gives you peace of mind then it's worth it.

ginny Tue 05-Sep-23 15:00:45

I agree. With Sodapop
Also you would be putting everyone else on the NHS list , one place up.

eddiecat78 Tue 05-Sep-23 15:24:10

I have a chronic health condition and opt to see the consultant privately. It's not just the timescale that concerns me - it's the fact that in the NHS I was frequently turning up for appointments and discovering I was seeing "one of his team" instead. And "one of his team" didn't appear to have ever read my notes and had their own very different ideas about treatment

Doodledog Tue 05-Sep-23 15:29:24


I agree. With Sodapop
Also you would be putting everyone else on the NHS list , one place up.

Can you explain how that works, please?

Visgir1 Tue 05-Sep-23 15:49:23

You might not be able to transfer information from Scans etc as they are NHS funded, not for the Private sector.
Check that out with his /her secretary, you don't want to pay for them.

CoolCoco Tue 05-Sep-23 17:00:05

Email the consultants secretary as they have to respond to emails. Tell them your condition has deteriorated and it is important you see the consultant asap. I did this and got a a phone call back the next day and a cancellation appointment.

joannapiano Tue 05-Sep-23 17:28:29

If you can’t pay for your health, what can you pay for? Health is a priority, not holidays, eating out etc etc.

Tortoiselover Tue 05-Sep-23 17:37:23

Scans can be accessed in the private sector from the NHS and vice versa via the electronic information exchange portal. Need to tell the secretary where the scans were done and she will be able to access them.

ginny Tue 05-Sep-23 18:21:13


I agree. With Sodapop
Also you would be putting everyone else on the NHS list , one place up.
Can you explain how that works, please?

If I am removed from the waiting list , then the next person on the list moves up one place/has one less person in front of them.

LovesBach Tue 05-Sep-23 18:26:54

Our friend's son is an A& Consultant. Many of his colleagues are working as locums and at private hospitals, charging the NHS for these services when they are on strike.

LovesBach Tue 05-Sep-23 18:27:35

A & E .

vickymeldrew Tue 05-Sep-23 19:22:46

Mawmac - why do you feel you would be ‘undermining the NHS’ if you paid for an appointment. I should think you’d be doing the NHS a favour !

Thorntrees Tue 05-Sep-23 19:27:55

I decided to go for a private appt after waiting 3 months for a 24 heart monitor to see why I have an irregular heartbeat. Even the GP Admitted she couldn’t do anything to hurry it up and suggested we go private if we could.
Got an appt within a week,a 14 day heart monitor arranged and follow up appt on Thursday to see the outcome.
Yes ,I felt a bit guilty but if NHS appts are so limited perhaps someone else can benefit from my leaving the queue.
I realise we are fortunate to be able to afford to do this but as others have said health is important and we chose to spend our money on that instead of in other ways- our choice.

Fleurpepper Tue 05-Sep-23 19:59:33

It's just awful that people are so desperate and worried, and feel the only way is to go private. I'd never blame anyone for doing so, for sure. But it is so so so wrong.

Doodledog Tue 05-Sep-23 20:36:29



I agree. With Sodapop
Also you would be putting everyone else on the NHS list , one place up.
Can you explain how that works, please?

If I am removed from the waiting list , then the next person on the list moves up one place/has one less person in front of them.

No, if there were only one queue, instead of an NHS one and a private one, with the private patients always getting seen first, patients would be seen on the basis of clinical need and not ability to pay.

I don't blame people who are scared and in pain for paying to jump the queue, but I really object to seeing it presented as doing a kindness to the poor souls on the NHS. It really isn't anything of the kind.

Caravansera Tue 05-Sep-23 20:55:35

I agree. The notion that paying for private treatment shortens the NHS queue for others who are unable to pay (or unwilling to as some seem to imply) is illogical and simply wrong. I don’t blame people who are unwell or in pain for doing so but let’s not kid ourselves it is anything other than queue jumping.

This article was published on 12 December 2022.

Famously described by the late Julian Tudor Hart as the “red-light district of medicine”, the evidence about the parasitic and risky nature of private healthcare in the UK has been mounting for decades.

As anyone in the health service knows, private hospitals do not have any additional doctors to assist in reducing the NHS backlog – in all the private hospitals operating in the UK, the doctors are NHS doctors. In commercial terms, because the private sector contributes nothing to the training of the 17,500 doctors who work in its hospitals, this amounts to a free subsidy to the private sector of about £8bn.

And because these consultants operate on a freelance basis, the hospitals do not pay any associated national insurance costs and they are notoriously able to use this employment arrangement to deny liability if a doctor harms a patient, as they are merely “renting them a room”.

Given that the main constraint on clearing the backlog is not operating theatres but consultants, surgeons and anaesthetists, it makes no sense to suggest that the private sector can come to the rescue of the NHS.

There is only one pool of healthcare professionals in the UK and unless that pool expands significantly and quickly, a policy of pushing NHS patients to be treated in the private sector will not make any significant dent in the number of patients waiting to be treated, working class or otherwise.

winterwhite Tue 05-Sep-23 21:01:26

And I dislike the ‘up to me how I spend my money others may choose differently’ argument. Many of the patients on any waiting list earn modest salaries on which there are many demands and are in no position to make any choice at all.

sodapop Tue 05-Sep-23 21:05:18

Unfortunately that's life winterswhite there will always be a financial divide.

Doodledog Tue 05-Sep-23 21:26:56


Unfortunately that's life winterswhite there will always be a financial divide.

A financial divide is one thing, but a life-or-death health divide is quite another.

Mawmac Tue 05-Sep-23 21:32:56

Thanks for all the comments and understanding.
I do think it undermines the NHS, because doctors, nurses and other resources will gradually gravitate to a private service if it is funded better.
In the longer term is the NHS going to be able to cope?
The outlook for our children and grandchildren is not promising.

Wenmore Wed 06-Sep-23 00:56:15

I paid to see a consultant. Consultation, tests including MRI, phone call to discuss results. Then he transferred me (by mutual agreement) back to the NHS. As I'd seen him l was escalated to the next stage, 6 month follow up. Had l waited on the NHS I would not have had my first appointment before l had the 6 month follow up so going privately served me very well by escalating me up the queue effectively jumping above others waiting on it.

Grammaretto Wed 06-Sep-23 01:23:14

My story is similar. Cataract surgery was recommended a year ago. I was referred to the eye hospital and was told of very long waiting times.

In March I discovered that there was still 6 months before an assessment never mind surgery.
I paid a few hundred pounds for a private assessment in May and was given an appointment for surgery £7k in 2 weeks.
Then, a letter arrived from NHS to say they are trying to reduce waiting lists so could do the (very quick) surgery at a private clinic paid for by NHS.
I cancelled my private appointment and waited until August when I had another assessment NHS at a private clinic,and was sent home with no date for the op but told it wouldn't be very long but they had to see their private patients first.
It feels all wrong.
I wish there wasn't this 2 tier system.

I suppose my cataract surgery is not life or death but this and other problems which come with age such as hip and knee surgery are gradually being squeezed out of the NHS.
What next?