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How to choose a private hospital

Choosing a private hospital

When considering private healthcare, it can be daunting trying to find all the information to make an informed decision. Whether you want to cut down on waiting times for a long-awaited treatment or simply want to take control of your healthcare, choosing the right private hospital is an important step in your healthcare journey and requires some research.

To make your decision easier, we have created a guide to choosing a private hospital and where you can find the information you need to make an informed decision that is right for you.

Key things to consider when choosing a private hospital

What’s the price of treatment?

Cost is likely to be among the top considerations when it comes to your choice of private hospital.

Check out each hospital’s website to see which procedures are offered as there will likely be slight variations (you can view our prices for self-pay treatment here). It’s best to compare all hospitals to find the right fit for you.

One of your first considerations should be to ask each hospital if a fixed-cost package is offered for your treatment. Such packages help make it clearer what you’ll ultimately pay for your treatment. If they are available, ask what the package consists of. For example, does it include your initial consultation or is that a separate, standalone cost?

Don’t forget to also ask about incidental fees that may be added to your final bill. For example, does the hospital offer free, on-site parking to all patients and is that included in your package? If not, you may end up having to leave your car in a public car park and get a taxi or public transport to the hospital.

How can I pay for private treatment?

There are a couple of options available when it comes to paying for private healthcare:

Self-pay: if you need help now with a health concern and don’t want to wait, paying for your own treatment in hospital is a smart way to get back on the road to recovery, fast.

Private health insurance: if you have private medical insurance, you can access treatment with authorisation from your insurer.

What are the hospital’s infection rates and MRSA levels?

Not all infections are preventable, but many healthcare-associated infections can be kept in check with infection prevention and control measures, including basic hygiene. Hospitals publish information about infection control as well as infection rates and MRSA levels on their website, so it’s easy to find out more.

What are the hospital’s satisfaction scores and patient feedback ratings?

Whichever route you choose for your treatment it’s essential you do your homework in advance of making the final choice of private hospital.

To help in your research, we recommend you look not only at the websites of private hospitals across your region but also those of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Private Healthcare information Network (PHIN) and Doctify.

The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. Their role is to ensure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and to encourage care services to continuously improve.

During the last assessment, our hospital was rated as “Outstanding” by the CQC.

The PHIN (of which we’re a member) is the independent, government-mandated source of information about private healthcare. A not-for-profit organisation, they work to empower patients to make better-informed choices of care provider and Consultant performance, including the number of treatments carried out privately.

In addition, on the PHIN website you’ll find patient experiences and patient satisfaction ratings for private hospitals that will help you in your final decision about which hospital to choose for your private treatment.

Doctify is an industry-leading patient review platform which allows verified patients to leave feedback about their experience at a private hospital, and their Consultant.
You can also read patient reviews on individual hospital websites, watch patient video interviews, and speak to former patients to help you choose.

What are the hospital’s return to theatre rates?

The PHIN website also includes return to theatre rates. A return to theatre occurs if a patient unexpectedly develops complications and has to go back into surgery.

The rate is based on the last 12 months of information provided by hospitals and includes the total number of returns to theatre and the rate of returns to theatre for every 1,000 patients.

A good private hospital will be clear and transparent about their rates and will include details why a patient has had to return to theatre.

What’s the hospital’s safety record?

A hospital’s safety record is usually outlined in their Quality Account. This could include incidents related to medication, Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), infections and administration errors. Compare the safety record of several private hospitals; not just the rates but how transparent reporting is and whether the hospital has processes in place to improve awareness and these issues.

Who’ll be carrying out my procedure?

The hospital’s website will usually list Consultants by treatment area, and many will include a profile page for each, outlining their qualifications and experience. This information, along with their General Medical Council (GMC) number can also be found on the PHIN website. The GMC number allows you to confirm that your Consultant is registered to practice medicine.

You should research how many procedures the Consultants have carried out – especially for potentially life-altering surgery such cosmetic or weight loss procedures.

Some specialties, such as joint replacement, have their own database. The National Joint Registry’s (NJR) Surgeon and Hospital Profile allows you to search for an Orthopaedic Consultant and reports on how many joint replacement operations they’ve carried out in the last year and within the last three years by hospital.

What is the hospital’s speciality?

Some private hospitals will describe themselves as ‘leading’ in certain specialties on their website or other marketing materials. This usually means that they carry out highest volume of treatments in a given region, so you can rest assured that they have both the technology and experience to ensure your procedure is carried out safely and your outcome will be positive. You can easily check the accuracy of these statements on the PHIN website.

What facilities does the hospital have and where is it located?

Where you have your treatment will often depend on how close it is to where you live. You may not want to travel far to or from the hospital and you may want to be close to friends and family so that they can easily visit you after your procedure.

Think about what’s important to you before, during and after your treatment. Keeping in touch with the outside world is important, especially if you need to spend time in hospital. Will you have free access to TV, Wi-Fi and a telephone during your stay?

Visit the hospital’s website for information on facilities and what extra services you can enjoy.

What other questions should I ask?

You might want to make a list of questions to ask when you first contact a private hospital, such as:

  • What happens if I require further treatment after a procedure?
  • What services are available post-operation?
  • Is there a high dependency unit or intensive care should something go wrong?
  • Are visitors allowed?

Keep a note of the answers to these questions and compare when deciding on the best private hospital for you.

Contact us about private treatment at Benenden Hospital

Health concerns can be worrying, but having a clear understanding of what to ask and look out for when arranging private treatment can ease your experience and help you to feel confident and empowered to make the decision that’s right for you.

If you have any questions about any of the aspects of choosing a private hospital, our Private Patient team can help. Contact them vis Livechat, by calling 01580 363158 or by completing our online enquiry form.

Published on 13 September 2022