It’s no great secret that the NHS is under pressure to deliver a healthcare service to a growing, ageing population. This added demand, along with a reduction in funding has caused strain and some might say it has caused a dip in quality of the services offered to the general public. Due to increased waiting times and a sense of uncertainty around the service it has been reported that more people are turning to the alternative, private healthcare. As the situation doesn’t look like it will be resolved any time soon, we decided to weigh up the differences, so if you’re interested in the current state of the British healthcare system, read on!
Let’s tackle the most obvious difference straight away; there’s a rather large gap in cost. A check-up and treatment on the NHS is usually free, however you might have to pay for your medication/prescription. Compare this to private healthcare, which charges for basic check-ups and even consultations. As for procedures you could easily be looking at a 4 figure sum, which simply isn’t an option for a lot of people, especially students who live on a part-time wage/student loan.
Waiting lists and availability
Another common criticism of the NHS over recent years has been the difficultly people face when trying to book suitable appointments with their desired GP. Again due to lack of staffing and increasing workloads, booking suitable appointments with the NHS has become a real challenge. Patients also have to wait for extraordinarily long periods of time on waiting lists. Compare this to the private sector where booking an appointment is a streamlined process and patients can find themselves fast tracked onto waiting lists to ensure they’re seen to in a much more reasonable time scale.
Luckily as a student with free time between lectures you may be able to squeeze into appointment times which aren’t as conveniently scheduled for those poor souls who work: 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.
Level of care
This is where many believe private healthcare comes into its own. However we must stress this isn’t due to the quality of staff, it’s all down to time. A fully qualified professional spending 30-45 minutes with a concerned patient is naturally going to give a better service when compared to an HNS doctor who has less time and more patients to see in a day… again it comes back to the burden and strain imposed on the NHS. That said, chances are you’ll be able to get a better level of care going down the private route.
The last difference we think worthwhile pointing out may be somewhat of a myth… Private Healthcare has the image of being nicer, more modern and even cleaner (we’re talking about waiting rooms, etc.). Well, this is purely down to the standards of the providers in your area (both private and public); it’s impossible to know who offers the nicer, cleaner, safer environment without visiting the centres first hand.
To summarise the NHS is a fantastic resource available to UK residents at no cost… however due to the stress and demand imposed on it, private healthcare may indeed be a viable option. You really need to weigh up if you’re willing to spend the money for a more convenient and faster service. Just remember private healthcare isn’t student friendly when it comes to finances!