There has been a marked increase in the number of patients using private medical services in the last decade. Whether this has been a good thing is unclear, but it is very much a fact of life. None of the doctors here do private clinical work, and an NHS GP is not able to treat a patient on their list privately.
There are a number of points which the Practice would like to make to our patients who wish to use "non NHS" medical services:-
- We are happy to make referrals to private consultants after consultation, and generally refer to specialists whose clinical work we know and trust. These are often local NHS specialists.
- In general, a specialist would expect and like a letter of referral from the GP. The main reason is that the GP holds the patients medical record and of course may be privy to important information which may be relevant to the situation. It may be of course, that the specialist might ask the GP to continue any ongoing management of the condition and wish them to be involved. Another reason is that some insurance companies will not pay unless this has been done.
- A referral does not mean we are under any obligation to follow that specialist’s advice. An issue which is often clouded here, is over who is going to have the ongoing clinical responsibility for that condition. This is particularly relevant to medication.
- A private specialist (even one who is also doing work in the NHS) cannot issue an NHS prescription when seeing someone privately. Virtually all insurance policies do not cover the cost of drugs.
- It is a shock to patients when they discover how expensive some drugs are. This becomes apparent when they take the private prescription from the specialist to the chemist. Some specialists will tell you that we will prescribe an NHS prescription, but in fact we are not supposed to do this, and are under no obligation to do so.
- Were we to do this (and we are not unsympathetic to the reasons which sometimes push people towards the private sector) there are two important issues:-
- A doctor who signs a prescription is taking the major responsibility for the monitoring and management of the condition being treated, and hence must feel competent and comfortable to do so. We will not, if we do not feel in a position to do this.
- GPs are restricted under local CCG prescribing guidelines as to what they are able to prescribe, whereas private doctors are not.
- We do not prioritise the typing of letters etc just because someone is going the private route. Our administrator prioritises her workload on medical need only.