Public healthcare is great for many people, especially if it's free, like with the National Health Service in the UK. But with COVID-19 taking priority over beds and hospital appointments since early 2020 and general long waiting times, more people than ever are turning to private healthcare in London and elsewhere to have procedures done.
And with an enormous and growing backlog of non-elective and other surgeries at public hospitals everywhere — procedures that were put off, either by individuals or medical centres — it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a date to have something done. In England alone, the waiting time to be seen by a doctor or consultant at a public hospital has stretched to almost 5 million people, according to the British Medical Journal, which calls the waiting-list number “a record high”.
“The latest referral to treatment statistics from NHS England published on 15 April show that 4.7 million people were waiting to begin treatment at the end of February this year — the highest number since records began in 2007,” the publication said. “Of those 4.7 million people, 387,885 patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for routine operations and procedures, which was an increase from 224,205 in December 2020.”
The Doctor Will See You, Right Now
In contrast to overburdened public health systems — which have been doing incredible work during the pandemic, providing urgent treatment with often limited budgets and helping to save lives — with a private hospital, there's almost no waiting around at all: when you need care and attention, you get it immediately.
Leading private doctors in London, such as at the top St John & St Elizabeth Hospital, will usually see patients the same day they make an appointment or the nearest suitable day. This is because the medical centre caters to an upscale market that requires instant medical attention, and waiting months to see a doctor is not an option their patients wish to consider.
The NHS strives to have a maximum waiting time for non-urgent treatment of 18 weeks, for example, and even then, you might wait that long and your appointment or procedure is cancelled. It can add lots more stress and uncertainty about a condition people are suffering from, whereas with a private hospital you have peace of mind knowing that you can get treatment almost as soon as you phone for an appointment.
Private Hospitals Helping to Save Cash
Time really is money in our busy working and family lives, and even if we're still working from home, we can't be away from our computers for too long. So instead of days spent in public hospital waiting rooms — unproductive, lost time — with a private hospital, you're in and out in a flash. This is another big benefit of private healthcare because, in the long run, it can end up saving you money.
Patients using private healthcare in London and around the world also enjoy a far higher level of personalised care and attention than they would get at a public medical centre where staff are often rushed because of the high numbers of patients they have to treat. And so, for many people, a private hospital and its individual approach is reassuring and can result in a better outcome in terms of their consultations, procedures and treatment.
So whether paying for health insurance you can use at a private hospital or paying the hospital directly, it's an investment in your health, time and money.