Medical Insurance: NHS Consultants Go Private

The funding crisis in the National Health Service is so dire that at least 4,000 frontline jobs might be axed say the Royal College of Nursing. “There’s no doubt that there will be an impact on patients”, says their spokesperson. “This is not the sort of thing that is going to be resolved by cutting back on chocolate biscuits in the boardroom. The staff that we are looking at losing are not office based, they’re people who are providing frontline services.” Little surprise therefore, that people in the know are going private for their medical care! According to a recent survey by BUPA, 41% of NHS Consultants have protected their medical care by going private. Isn’t that a vote of confidence!

The British Medical Association (BMA) feebly argues that the Consultants’ commitment to private medical cover doesn’t demonstrate a lack of confidence in the NHS.

The Deputy Chairman of the BMA’s Consultants’ Committee whispers, “Consultants may also like the anonymity of private care. One of the problems of being treated in the NHS is that Consultants might find themselves in a bed next to one of their patients”.

What a joke! Surely, being treated in a bed next to one of their patients would underline their commitment and confidence in the NHS. Their presence in a private ward only serves to emphasize their lack of confidence!

Remember that private medical insurance doesn’t provide care if you have an accident – that’s still the role of the Accident and Emergency Unit at your nearest NHS hospital. The overwhelming advantage of going private, is to ensure you get prompt care for planned surgery and medical situations that arise at short notice, in a hospital of your choice. The case of Dr Sarah Burnett makes the point.

Dr Burnett is a Radiology Consultant with 15 years service in the NHS. She chose to take out private medical insurance because she was unhappy with the level of care she saw first hand. “NHS treatment is not a pleasant experience in any way – from the standard of the food, to ward cleanliness and the chance of catching MRSA”, she observes.

Last year during a private medical screening, Dr Burnet was diagnosed with multiple small tumours in her breast. The cancer required urgent and specialised surgery. Within hours she saw the consultant surgeon who organised a skin-sparing mastectomy. A few days later she was recovering from the surgery.

“I was lucky enough to have exceptionally prompt treatment because I choose to pay for insurance. Under the NHS I would not have been screened for breast cancer until I was 50 and would not have been able to catch my cancer at such an early stage. The type of surgery I had is only rarely available on the NHS, depending on the experience of your local surgeon”, said Dr Burnet.

If you, like Dr Burnet and almost half of the UK ‘s NHS Consultants, want to sidestep the NHS and go private, it’s wise to take out private health insurance. Choosing the right medical insurance cover is, unfortunately, quite complicated. You need to decide the standard of hospitals you would want to use, the level of cover and various other options. For this reason, you need specialised advice from a professional medical insurance broker. These people know exactly what’s on the market and can access it.

Where better to find these brokers than the Internet? Just use Google or your favourite search engine, to search for “medical insurance”. You’ll find all the top medical brokers there. If you see the insurance company’s own sites steer clear – they can only sell you their own products and you really need independent advice to be able to identify which, within the whole market, is best for you.

Oh yes, make sure you chose a site that puts you directly in touch with an adviser. Ideally, you should talk over your requirements and chat to the adviser about the best alternatives. You don’t need a home visit as all this can easily be done over the phone. And buying through a broker won’t cost you a penny more than going direct to the insurance company. In fact a broker can sometimes be cheaper!