East London patients should be more aware of private health options

Patients need to be more aware of the treatment options available to them outside the NHS, according to a survey by a private hospital.

The BMI The London Independent Hospital in Stepney Green carried out a survey which reveals that three quarters of London GPs believe a healthy private sector, running alongside the NHS is good for patient choice.

It also revealed that patients need to be more aware of the treatment options available to them. Over half (55 per cent) of the GPs surveyed said that most of their patients did not have a good understanding of their options outside of the NHS.

It has been claimed that localised rationing of procedures in the NHS, such as hip and knee replacements, has led to a “postcode lottery” for treatments. In instances where residents may not fit the eligibility criteria for certain restricted procedures, BMI The London Independent Hospital is encouraging Tower Hamlet and Newham residents to become more savvy around the options for treatment available outside of the NHS.

Kirsty Baker Executive Director at the hospital said: “Constraints on NHS funding mean that eligibility criteria have been introduced for certain procedures, and it is well publicised that in some instances the criteria varies widely across London.”

The main alternatives available to residents include private medical insurance and the option to self-pay. In London approximately 1 in 6 residents (17 per cent) have private medical insurance, above the UK average of 10.8 per cent. But, the survey commissioned by the hospital revealed that just over one in ten (11 per cent) of the London GPs surveyed actually ask their patients if they have private medical insurance. Over three quarters of GPs (77 per cent) believe it is the patient’s responsibility to mention if they have private medical insurance during their appointment.

Kirsty Baker said: “As a society we all need to be aware of the choices available to us when it comes to our health. At BMI The Independent Hospital many of our team members come from a background in the NHS and we are proud supporters of the institution and its goals. But, as a nation and as patients we have to accept that it cannot provide universal access for all our healthcare needs.”