We understand that some patients will opt to have some, or all of their treatment privately. This section explains how the NHS and General Practice work alongside Private providers of care.
What do I need to do?
For patients making use of private health insurance e.g., Bupa:
You will need to inform the surgery of the name of the consultant you have decided to see privately and your GP will write a referral letter if they feel this is appropriate. This will be available to collect from reception, or it can be emailed to you if you provide consent and request this, this letter will include any relevant medical details about you. These letters have the same priority as NHS referral letters unless medically urgent. We would encourage you to wait until you have this letter before making an appointment, as the details within it will help the consultant. If an insurance company wishes for a specific form to be completed there is a charge for this additional work.
For patients who do not have a health insurance policy:
If you do not have health insurance and wish to book directly with a private clinic, you do not require a letter and can arrange the appointment as you wish. You should contact the Consultant’s team to organise an appointment. Should you have any questions regarding your appointment you should contact them directly.
Seeing the Consultant – What happens if I need a test or procedure?
If the Consultant thinks that you need any tests – including blood tests – or a surgical procedure, then the Consultant is responsible for:
Arranging tests and any medications that might be needed prior to the test, as well as explaining how and when you will receive a date for the test, and what to do if the date is not suitable for you, giving you your results and explaining what they mean. This may be via a letter or email or a further appointment. Please do not contact the practice to discuss the results of tests organised by other doctors. It is the Consultant’s responsibility to discuss this with you, and the practice will likely not have access to the results or be able to interpret them.
GP practices are being asked to take over an increasing amount of blood monitoring, and other procedures for private consultants and private GP’s and NHS practices are being asked to take responsibility for the results. Due to rising demands on primary care, we are unable to provide non-NHS work. Therefore, we may write back to them (copying the patient) asking them to make alternative arrangements for their patient.
What happens if I need new medicines?
The Consultant might suggest prescribing new medicines for you or might want to make changes to the medicines that you are already taking. They will be responsible for giving you the first prescription of any new medicine that you need to start taking straight away. Please note if you take a private prescription to any NHS Pharmacy you will have to pay the actual cost of the medication rather than the current NHS standard prescription charge, which may be dependent on the medication prescribed. In some cases, your GP may be able to continue to prescribe these medications on an NHS prescription. This will need to be considered by the practice and is at the discretion of the GPs. Prior to this, a full clinic letter from the consultant is required, outlining the reasons for treatment, explaining the precise details of the prescription; what it is being used to treat; how long the treatment is intended for; and what monitoring or follow up is required before the practice can decide whether we can continue to prescribe. Please allow at least seven days to allow this letter to arrive before contacting your GP. If a prescription is needed sooner you should contact the Consultant’s team (usually via the secretary) for them to prescribe it.
Private consultants may suggest medications to patients which wouldn’t normally be prescribed by NHS GPs. If this is the case, you will need to continue to receive them from the Consultant. Please contact them directly to organise this.
What happens if I need to transfer my care back to the NHS?
If after seeing the Consultant privately you want to be back under NHS care, national regulations allow for you to transfer back. This transfer ideally needs to be done by the private Consultant who is overseeing your care but if this is not possible, please request that your consultant writes directly to the practice to request this.
Patients sometimes register with a private GP as well as an NHS GP. We need patient’s explicit consent to send any medical information from your NHS notes to the private GP. In addition, we advise patients to ensure that the private GP keeps us updated with any medications prescribed to ensure that safety in prescribing is maintained.