Private health care

Private treatment usually refers to treatment that is not covered by the NHS such as elective procedures like cosmetic surgery, private dental care, and fertility treatment as well as all the necessary treatments that are provided by the NHS.

You can request private treatment from a consultant or specialist without being referred by your GP however the British Medical Association (BMA) believes it’s best practice for patients to be referred for specialist treatment by their GP because they know your medical history and can advise you if a referral is necessary.

Guidance is provided below on how to choose a Private Health Care Provider; patients are required to choose their own and provide the details of this provider during their consultation with a GP.

It is patient choice to opt to have private health care however patients need to be aware of the following when considering private health care:


Both pre and post operational tests should be undertaken by the provided as part of you package.

Patient aftercare

One of the most important aspects of any type of healthcare is patient aftercare. This refers to the care and support that patients receive once they have finished their treatment. For example, if you have private surgery and require removal of stitches these should be removed by the provider as part of your package.

Medications and private prescriptions

A “private prescription” is the term used in the United Kingdom to describe a medical prescription that is not provided by the National Health Service (NHS). The cost of a private prescription varies depending on the medication that has been prescribed. This should be discussed with the consultant/specialist, your provider will be required to write these prescriptions as long as you need them.

Transfer of prescriptions from private to NHS

If a GP receives a letter from a private consultation advising/suggesting a course of action, then it may be appropriate for ongoing treatment to be transfers to the GP for them to take clinical responsibility longer term. There may be occasions when the GP is requested by a private consultant to prescribe medication they would not usually prescribe – the follow are examples:

  • Specialist medication: If the medication is specialist in nature and is not a routine drug for GP prescribing, it is for the individual GP to decide whether to accept clinical responsibility for the prescribing and monitoring based on knowledge and experience.
  • Non-formulary: If the medication is not part of the local joint prescribing formulary, it is not recommended to be transferred onto NHS, however, the GP may wish to offer the patient a clinically suitable formulary alternative.
  • Unlicensed or off-label: There is greater clinical responsibility on the GP prescribing unlicensed or off label treatment. The GP would be required to refer to the General Medical Council advice regarding the prescribing of unlicensed medicines prior to considering the transfer of prescriptions from private to NHS.
  • Red/Grey list or blacklisted: Drugs that are included in these categories are considered less suitable for prescribing.
  • Self-Care – Some treatments recommended by your private provider may be available to purchase over-the-counter. NHS North Yorkshire CCG does not support the general prescribing of over-the-counter medicines. Self-care is about looking after yourself as well as treating minor ailments with simple, over-the-counter solutions that are available from local pharmacies and supermarkets. You can find out more about how you can treat a range of minor conditions at the link below.
    Self-care and lifestyle – NHS North Yorkshire CCG

In addition, if the GP does not feel that the medication is clinically appropriate, they do not agree with the treatment plan, or they do not have access to full written details from the private clinician, then it would be reasonable for the GP to decline to prescribe.


As a patient you are requested to ensure that your chosen provider offers communication to your GP including details of tests and diagnoses. You may need to agree a written action plan with your private specialist in case you require rapid referral back to your private provider or you require escalation of treatment.

Suspected Cancer Referrals

Under the NHS you should not have to wait more than 2 weeks to see a specialist if your GP suspects you have cancer and urgently refers you. If you decide to go privately rather than go through the NHS pathway this will be recorded on your record and all responsibility will be transferred to your chosen provider.

  • Step


    Decide what you need

    The first step is to decide what you need. Do you just want to go privately for one specific treatment, or are you looking for a complete healthcare package? If it’s the former, then you can simply choose a provider that offers the treatment you need. However, if you’re looking for a complete package then you’ll need to do some more research until you find the right provider.

  • Step


    Compare different providers

    Once you’ve decided what you need, the next step is to compare different providers. This can be done by looking at reviews online or by asking friends and family for their recommendations. It’s important to make sure that you compare apples with apples – in other words, make sure that you’re comparing providers that offer the same type of service. One useful resource for comparing different providers are CQC ratings which are given by the Care Quality Commission and judge private healthcare services based on a number of factors such as safety, effectiveness, care and leadership.

  • Step


    Decide what’s important to you

    Now that you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to start thinking about what’s important to you. For example, do you want a provider with excellent facilities? Or one that has a good reputation? Maybe you’re more interested in the cost of treatment. Whatever it is, make sure to jot it down as this will help you when making your final decision.

  • Step


    Contact the providers

    Once you’ve decided on a few providers, the next step is to contact them and ask for more information. This is where you can ask any questions that you might have about their services. It’s also a good opportunity to get a feel for the provider and see if they’re the right one for you.

  • Step


    Make your decision

    Finally, it’s time to make your decision. This should be based on what’s important to you, as well as your budget. Remember, you don’t have to choose the first provider that you come across – take your time and make sure you find the right one for you.

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