The NHS gives a fantastic level of care for most parents and their children and in the UK there is much that the private sector cannot deliver due to the high standards and universal cover that the NHS offers. I, like virtually all Consultants offering private paediatric services, spend most of our time looking after the most sick and complex of children, within the NHS. For most children, the NHS is exactly where they should be cared for, but occasionally this is not the case.
Particularly when a child is not acutely unwell, the pathway to a correct diagnosis and effective treatment (if that is available), might involve a number of tests and a balanced interpretation of those results. This may well involve a senior consultant with experience in a specialist field of paediatric medicine. Such an opinion is not always available on the NHS for a few reasons.
The way the NHS maintains such high levels of efficiency, is to utilise junior doctors (under supervision) in delivering that care. At times that junction between a junior in training and the senior consultant allows the slip of medical insight. Training of the next generation of high level doctors is essential, and something that I am passionate about, but it can vie with the individual needs of a family on some occasions.
There is sometimes a limited choice of which consultants your GP can refer you to (or individual hospitals balance out the numbers going to different specialists to maintain efficient work throughout). As such, some parents may not get to see the most suitable consultant.
Time factor. Although the consultant is available to see your child on the NHS, the waiting times are unacceptably long. So the senior opinion is available, but the
capacity to deliver that opinion is not in a useful time frame.
Firstly, you are not bound to follow private medicine (despite what you might be told by doctors or administrators). If you have paid national insurance you are entitled to NHS care. You cannot be legally denied this if you have paid to see a private doctor. Referral back to your GP with a suggested treatment plan (which often includes a named NHS consultant with a good reputation) is the usual outcome. One or two consultations (£200-£400) of costs is the usual fee in such situations with the understanding that if urgent tests are needed, they will be recommended on the NHS in the management plan to your GP.
Sometimes patients get caught in medical silos where doctors do not consider alternative causes of the symptoms a patient may be presenting, in these situations the patient gets stuck in a rut and the same advice and same treatment (which previously has not worked) gets recommended repeatedly.
If you have private health insurance (and the value for money that UK private medicine offers is second to none) then a senior consultant of your own choosing, at a time of convenience (when parents work this is much appreciated), where there is free and available car parking (not a small issue if you have a sick child) and often the tests and recommended treatments can be delivered in a more timely manner. Referral back to the NHS at any point thereafter is possible for the reasons stated above.
A private consultation can thus deliver the following:
A second opinion.
A specialist opinion.
Timely insights from an experienced and caring doctor of your choosing.
A plan to take back with you to your GP or hospital doctor.
Please send an enquiry form to Paediatric Care if you would like to know how I can help.