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Patients shell out a fortune to see a private GP, health care providers say

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According to health care providers, patients are increasingly paying to see a doctor in private.

For a fee of approximately €100, a face-to-face consultation can be arranged almost immediately, sometimes on the same day.

Patients usually don’t need to be insured or even have a ‘referral’ if they pay for it out of pocket.

Spire, Britain’s second largest private healthcare provider, reports an 81 percent increase in the number of ‘self-paying’ patients this year compared to 2019.

There is a £90 charge for a 30 minute appointment described as ‘quick and easy access to private GP services – when you need it’.

A spokesperson told the Mail: ‘People are in pain and they choose not to wait for incredibly long GP shifts and the NHS to treat them.’

Spire, Britain’s second largest private healthcare provider, reports an 81 percent increase in the number of ‘self-paying’ patients this year compared to 2019. It charges £90 for a 30-minute appointment described as ‘quick and easy access to private GP services – when you need it’.

dr. Neil Haughton, a private GP in Notting Hill and the chairman of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: ‘We’ve never been so busy.

‘All my private GP colleagues say we can’t keep up with demand.

‘We are literally flooded. Some we have to reject because we don’t have enough slots.

‘The fact is, patients want to come to me, they don’t want a video consultation.

‘And as a doctor, you can miss the nuances if you don’t see your patients directly. You don’t pick up on the invisible things.

‘It is also unjust. For example, my 90-year-old mother doesn’t have a smartphone or computer, and you really should see such people in person.’

He added: “For a few hundred pounds you can get a mammogram or an ultrasound, and people often don’t realize that.”

dr.  Neil Haughton, a private GP in Notting Hill and the chairman of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: 'We've never been so busy.  'All my private GP colleagues say we can't keep up with demand.  The fact is that patients want to come and see me, they don't want a video consultation.'

dr. Neil Haughton, a private GP in Notting Hill and the chairman of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: ‘We’ve never been so busy. ‘All my private GP colleagues say we can’t keep up with demand. The fact is that patients want to come and see me, they don’t want a video consultation.’

Other ‘self-employed’ GPs agree that their practice is busier than ever.

One of them, Dr Martin Saweirs, told the Sunday Times that many of the patients at his Harley Street clinic hadn’t thought of paying for health care before.

“It started about nine months ago. There were loads of people who had stockpiled things that they wouldn’t have wanted anyone to see during the lockdown,” he said, adding: “I didn’t get into medicine to talk to people through the camera.

“You can’t listen to someone’s heart or examine their stomach over the phone.”

At Nuffield Health, which operates 31 private hospitals across the UK, referral rates for patients requiring specialist care are twice as high as before the pandemic.

Nuffield Health claims its private doctors provide a ‘full range of GP services near you’, without the need to register.

The doctors operate from hospitals, fitness clubs and local medical centers.

While NHS GPs claim that their online or telephone appointments are just as effective, it seems that some frail, anxious or vulnerable people prefer to go private.

Some patients pay five-figure fees to go straight to specialists — rather than wait for a primary care physician to refer them.

Some desperate people even feel they have to pay for heart surgery that can cost as much as £20,000.

While NHS GPs claim that their online or telephone appointments are just as effective, it seems that some frail, anxious or vulnerable people prefer to go private.  Some patients pay five-figure sums to go straight to specialists - instead of waiting for a GP to refer them

While NHS GPs claim that their online or telephone appointments are just as effective, it seems that some frail, anxious or vulnerable people prefer to go private. Some patients pay five-figure sums to go straight to specialists – instead of waiting for a GP to refer them

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest private hospital group, HCA, has seen a 20 percent increase in ‘self-funded cardiothoracic inpatient procedures’.

A woman in her 60s from Dorset, who wished to remain anonymous, revealed how she paid £13,000 for a spinal treatment, saying: ‘I don’t begrudge paying for it. I had no other choice.

‘I think the NHS is beautiful, but I don’t understand why everything is taking so long.’

dr. Bruce Jobling, a private GP in Manchester, said: ‘We’ve seen a lot more mental health problems.

‘We are also seeing late presentations of worrisome symptoms, sometimes reflecting a reluctance to seek NHS healthcare during the pandemic.’

Emma Hardy, the Labor MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, said: “Some have told me they now feel they have no choice but to try and save the money to go to a GP privately because they fear that their health will suffer. while they wait to see their GP in person.’

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