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The NHS has hardly been out of the headlines recently, mainly because the current government is planning major reforms in order to bring the system in line with modern expectations and demand. It is un-disputable that pressure on the NHS is increasing, what with the rise in population and health conditions such as obesity, which cost a great deal of money and that are reaching epidemic proportions. However, the NHS is still coping and recent surveys indicate a high patient satisfaction rate.
Why Stick with the NHS?
If you’ve fallen foul of the postcode lottery or been forced to wait a long time for treatment on the NHS you may be questioning its worth, but it is important to notice that the NHS is the most effective public health system in the world and provides a vast range of services free of charge. In many other countries, especially the USA, you could expect to pay thousands of pounds for courses of treatment that are available free from UK hospitals. The NHS is funded by taxpayers but the amount you put in is considerably lower than what you take out in the vast majority of cases. The NHS is the UK’s biggest employer and it boasts some of the world’s leading specialists. Many of the consultants divide their time between NHS and private work. The major benefit of the NHS is that anyone can receive the care they need at the first point of contact, without worrying about paying up-front or arranging insurance. If you have an accident you can rest assured that you will be given the best possible treatment as quickly as possible, regardless of social and financial status or where you are in the country. Another advantage of the NHS is that all the departments and hospitals are linked, which makes it much easier if the initial health problem you have turns out to be more complex. If you choose to go private you will have to liaise with different hospitals, which may take longer.
Problems with the NHS
The NHS is an amazing service but there are flaws due to the fact that the system is under pressure and services are available to a large number of people. The range of treatments is restricted and there may be waiting lists. Only essential treatments are provided; for example, if you want cosmetic surgery this is not available on the NHS and you will have to visit a private doctor, whereas certain skin conditions can be treated with the NHS. Though you may need for the treatment you need, targets are in place to ensure waiting times are not excessive. NHS facilities, including hospitals and clinics, are not generally the most stylish and comfortable, but the primary aim is to make people better and most are willing to sacrifice luxuries in return for free treatment.
Why Should I go Private?
The major benefits of private medical treatment are a larger choice of treatments, shorter waiting lists and better facilities. Generally speaking, private clinics and hospitals are more modern and more comfortable and most have private rooms and bathrooms. Private hospitals often provide treatment much quicker than NHS hospitals because the demand is lower, but this is not always the case, even for simple skin conditions, and if you choose to see a specific consultant who has an excellent reputation, you may be waiting even longer than you would on the NHS. Private medical care is advantageous because you have more choice when it comes to choosing a consultant, although the NHS is working to give patients greater choice. Private doctors tend to work to suit the individual, with evening or weekend appointments sometimes available. If you have private health insurance, which is part of the employee benefits package for many people, it is definitely worth looking into private medical care. However, in most cases NHS care is excellent and will save you spending hundreds, even thousands of pounds.
Author bio: Richard is a freelance writer who goes private for dentistry but sticks with the NHS for his other medical matters (at the moment). You can connect with him @thefreshhealth on Twitter and at +Writer Rich on Google+.