Talk to a member of our team today
020 813 823 25
24th 08-2023

Private healthcare vs. The NHS

Mounting pressure on the NHS has seen an increase in appointment and treatment waiting lists and left many people wondering if they should seek healthcare privately.

This year, NHS England reported a record number of around 1.58 million people are waiting for diagnostic tests, with 30% of these people waiting longer than 6 weeks, (NHS Key Statistics: England, July 2023).

Private healthcare offers patients quicker access to medical services including consultation, diagnosis, and treatment. Patients that seek medical care privately typically experience shorter waiting times than if they were to access these services via the NHS.

Private vs Public: A Comparison

Public healthcare and private healthcare each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, when deciding which route to pursue you should consider the following:

Waiting times

  • Private: As previously discussed, those seeking medical attention privately typically experience shorter wait times for consultations, diagnosis, and treatment. Our health insurance plans also offer access to a 24/7 virtual GP, giving you instant access to a professional opinion and speeding up your treatment process.
  • Public: Increased pressure and issues related to funding has meant NHS wait times can be longer, especially for those seeking treatment deemed to be non-urgent. Something as simple as a GP appointment can leave people waiting far too long, and diagnostic testing has seen patients waiting more than 6 weeks, (NHS Key Statistics: England, July 2023).

Range of services

  • Private: Private healthcare offers a broad range of services, from essential medical treatment, Specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and scans to operations. However, if you are using an insurance plan to cover the costs of your treatment ensure the treatment you require is covered by your policy.
  • Public: The NHS typically focus on providing essential and urgent treatments. Whilst they also provide a comprehensive range of non-essential services, these are often accompanied by long waiting lists.

Quality of care & facilities

  • Private: Professionals working in private facilities must possess relevant qualifications and be registered with the General Medical Council. Private healthcare providers are also committed to providing a personalised service and enhanced levels of comfort. Those who seek their medical treatment privately are more likely to be given a private room for instance.
  • Public: Healthcare professionals working in the NHS are trained to rigorous standards and must provide all patients with high-quality levels of care. However, it can be argued that the NHS provide patients with a less personal service with time restraints and long waiting lists they often see 100’s of patients a day. Facilities in NHS hospitals might pale in comparison to those in private hospitals as budget restrictions might prevent investments in state-of-the-art equipment.


  • Private: Seeking healthcare privately does come at a cost, this usually covered by the individual or by a health insurance provider.
  • Public: Healthcare received publicly in the UK is funded through taxation and as such you will not be required to pay for your medical treatment at the point of use.

To summarise, when deciding whether to seek private or public healthcare, you should consider your personal preference, budget, and the urgency of your care.

Mixing private treatment with the NHS

Should you choose to seek private healthcare, you’re still entitled to public healthcare through the NHS. You can even pursue a consultation and diagnosis privately but choose to seek treatment via the NHS. Alternatively, should you already possess a diagnosis you can be referred to a private hospital for treatment, this can be particularly beneficial if the treatment you require is accompanied by a long NHS waiting list.

If you do choose to seek private care alongside the NHS there are some limitations as to what you can and can’t do, as outlined on the NHS website. As detailed on the website, there must be a clear separation between your private and public treatment, and you cannot choose to mix different parts of the same treatment.

Seeking healthcare privately

Accessing private healthcare can be a lot easier if you have a health insurance policy. Your healthcare provider will be able to facilitate consultations and treatments on your behalf, taking the strain off you. Your provider will secure an appointment at a facility or with a specialist within your area and will help to cover the cost of any eligible treatment.

Whilst you don’t need a health insurance plan to access private hospitals and healthcare professionals, you might find having insurance in place makes the process easier and help spread the cost into monthly premiums.

Get a health insurance quote

To get a health insurance quote call us today on 020 813 823 25, or use our simple quote form online by clicking here.

We at Protex are part of a large healthcare company so policyholder’s care is paramount. At Protex, we pride ourselves on providing a health insurance plan designed to suit you. Rather than selling you any healthcare policy via a quick phone call, we will listen to your unique requirements and develop a plan and quote that meets your needs. All the relevant information is then sent to you, allowing you time and space to assess the plan and make an informed decision based on the facts.

Request a Quote

Apply for Private Health Insurance Today

Get a Quote
Talk to a member of our team today:
020 813 823 25
Get a Quote

We use cookies to personalise and enhance your experience on our site and improve the delivery of ads to you. Visit our Cookie Policy to learn more. By clicking 'accept', you agree to our use of cookies.