Can I have private treatment within the NHS? - Private Health Insurance

Yes. Some private treatments are carried out within the NHS if they are highly specialised or likely to include a period of time in intensive care.

Other examples of this include if you develop complications following private treatment which requires the services of the NHS or if your consultant decides that your best option is private treatment in an NHS hospital.

It’s important to remember that NHS hospitals are fully equipped and able to deal with life threatening emergencies as well as serious conditions which require specialist treatment. They have specialist ITU’s (intensive care unit) and, increasingly, private units which offer the same degree of care that you would receive in a private hospital or clinic.

NHS and private patients are treated in exactly the same way. There is no preferential treatment. The main differences between the two are shorter waiting lists, a private room and a few luxuries such as access to a TV and a top quality menu.

So the main benefits of private treatment within the NHS are:

  • 24 hour access to specialist and emergency services. NHS hospitals will have a full range of services which cater for any need.
  • Choice of using health insurance or self-paying for treatment. You can either use your insurance cover or pay directly for treatment. Check with your insurer regarding which hospitals are available to you according to your policy.
  • Supports the NHS. Doing this means that monies allocated for private treatment will flow back into the NHS hospitals which then benefits all patients.
  • Private treatment within an NHS hospital can be very reasonably priced which is something recognised by private health insurers.
  • Access to a specialist medical team which includes your consultant. You will find that your consultant has built up a highly experienced team of people as a result of time spent in an NHS hospital. Plus there is ample back up from nursing staff, therapists etc.

If you are treated in a private unit within an NHS hospital then you will find that your insurer will pay for this in the same way as treatment in a private hospital.

The NHS hospital calculates all the costs of treatment which include staff time, theatre time and aftercare services and passes the bill on to your insurer.

If you don’t want to use your health insurance then you can pay the NHS hospital directly. Known as ‘self-pay’ this enables you to pay for treatment yourself without going through your insurer, usually for one off treatment.

You can set up a savings account (such as an ISA) and use this money to pay for your treatment; or opt for a ‘cash plan’ whereby you pay a set amount each month via a direct debit and then claim a cash sum back to pay for treatment.

Private Medical Insurance Guide:



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