Health matters

For speed and flexibility private healthcare wins hands down, but is it always worth the extra cost?

When it comes to health, we all want to be as fit as a fiddle. But on those occasions when our body lets us down, it’s good to get a speedy appointment and treatment.

Private healthcare is undoubtedly a luxury, but it also offers great peace of mind. And with private hospitals dotted all around Kent, it’s accessible for us all, as long as the finance is in place to fund it! And the chances are you may well live closer to a private hospital than an NHS one.

Health insurance helps to ease the pain of paying out large sums at times when you need treatment and spreads the cost of cover on a monthly basis, while offering peace of mind that if you need private healthcare, you can access it quickly. Private healthcare firms offer their own insurance packages, and you can also buy it separately, but do make sure you compare the amount of coverage offered when comparing prices.

Paying for private healthcare as and when you need it is also an option and can often offer fast peace of mind without too high a cost. However, beware that costs can add up quickly if you do need specialist treatment or complications set in.

Referral to a private hospital or clinic is often still through a GP, so remember to tell your GP you have private medical insurance or want to pay to go private when you see him or her.

You can opt to see a private GP for around �60 for a 15-minute appointment, while still keeping on the books of an NHS GP. However, bear in mind that private GPs are usually unable to refer to NHS clinics, so you will need private medical insurance or money in place to fund your treatment.

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One of the great benefits of private healthcare is being able to get seen quickly at a time to suit you. Most private hospitals offer evening appointments, so you don’t have to take time off work.

Chances are you’ll also get to see a consultant at a private hospital, rather than one of his registrars as is usually the case in the NHS, unless your case is complex, or you strike lucky.

While private hospitals don’t cater for accidents and emergencies, many do cater for most medical cases, often using consultants that also work in the NHS. You can also choose to go private within an NHS hospital.

Private hospitals don’t just deal with medical cases. Perhaps you’d like cosmetic surgery, a health check, physiotherapy or even childbirth?

Holly Saunders of Tunbridge Wells is expecting her first child in June and chose a private midwife as she felt as though her NHS midwife treated her as a commodity on a conveyor belt.

“It was really like it was just a job for her and nothing more. I wanted to know my midwife and for her to know me before I have my baby, as when taken into hospital you have no idea who is about to deliver your child.

“It’s a magical nine months but it doesn’t come without its worries and having a private midwife meant peace of mind for me,”adds Holly.

“I know exactly how to get hold of her if I’m feeling anxious. Also, with a private midwife it means that I can have my home water birth with encouragement and not feel frowned upon or told that I should go into hospital. It was just right for me and how my partner Richard and I want our baby to meet us for the first time.”

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