Private Healthcare Responsibilities

What happens when you see a Consultant privately?

We understand that some patients will opt to have some or all of their treatment privately, and support your right to do so. However, to prevent any misunderstanding we would like to take this
opportunity to explain how the NHS and General Practice work alongside Private providers of care.

What do I need to do?

For patients making use of health insurance eg Bupa, Your GP will write a referral letter if they feel this is appropriate and it will be available to collect from reception or emailed to you, this will include any relevant medical details about you. We would encourage you to wait until you have this letter before making an appointment, as the details within it will help the doctor you see.
Please note that if an insurance company wishes for a specific form to be completed you may be charged 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 or your Private Health Care Provider or Insurer to organise an appointment. Should you have any questions regarding your appointment you should contact them directly.

Seeing the Consultatnt

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:

  • Please note the practice cannot arrange for bloods or other tests to be done here on behalf of private providers. The provider you see is responsible for arranging for any tests they recommend to be carried out – this includes explaining how and when you will receive a date for the test, and what to do if the date is not suitable for you.
  • This may involve you returning to the private provider to have tests, including blood tests carried out. GMC Good Medical Practice is very clear that whoever requests a test is responsible for arranging the test and following up the results – this is why your GP cannot do tests on behalf of other doctors – both private and NHS.
  • Giving you your results and explaining what they mean. This may be via letter or a further face to face 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 may not have access to the results, or be in a position to interpret them.

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 more or less 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 than this you should contact the Consultant’s team (usually via the secretary) for them to prescribe. 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.

Please find attached the guidance regarding the departmental policy for patients accessing private healthcare outside Northern Irleand.