1. Check their qualifications and registrations
The private consultant you choose must have the necessary qualifications and be a member of relevant organisations and institutions in the UK.
The number of procedures performed by private consultants should be made public by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) on their web page. Surgeons should also be members of the Royal College of Surgeons, and all doctors/consultants must be registered with the General Medical Council.
If required, you should also check out specialist organisations, for example, The Institute of Urology & Nephrology.
2. Check their experience
A private consultant’s ability to perform more surgeries or treat more patients does not immediately imply that they are better. Still, it does indicate that they have more expertise with the surgery you want.
It would be best if you also looked into any current studies or public experience the hospital consultants are part of and any recent training or continued professional development they have done.
3. Check their reputation
Find out where the private consultant in question has received their education and their credentials in hospitals and the overall health industry. Many private hospitals will disclose information about surgical results, infection rates, and data about specific surgeons. If they do not provide this information, look up a consultant or surgeon’s credentials online or enquire directly.
For consultants, it’s tough to keep bad experiences or poor-quality outcomes a secret, particularly within the hospital industry, so speak to any doctors or nurses you trust or ask your GP what they think of your preferred consultant.
4. Ask Them Outright
Asking direct questions about their experience and competence to treat you and your ailment will not upset your private consultant.
It would help if you enquired about their personal experience with the treatment you seek, as well as whether they have conducted any study or written any papers on the topic. You can also enquire about their procedure’s success rate and how it corresponds to the national average. You can also ask about any prior patient referrals or if they have any grievances on file.
5. Ask your private medical insurance company
Private medical insurance providers have the most expertise working with private consultants, so it’s important to ask for their recommendations. Your health insurance provider can propose a consultant for you, and if this is the case, you can be confident that they will be competent. It is not in their best interests, either monetarily or in terms of credibility, to suggest consultants or hospitals that do not meet high standards.
6. Contact the relevant professional association
The General Medical Council requires all consultants, whether private or NHS, to be registered. They must also be a member of the GMC’s “specialist register” in their respective speciality, such as cosmetic surgery, as of 1997.
They should also be members of professional institutions relating to their field of specialisation, such as the European Society of Cardiologists (ESC) for cardiologists and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) for cosmetic surgeons.
Check out the consultants’ professional associations, training, and qualifications and double-check the information on the applicable association’s website or GMC webpage.
7. CMA Compliance
Following its inquiry into the private healthcare business, the Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”) announced the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014 (the “Order”) in October 2014. For the benefit of patients, the Order required private hospital operators to provide specific information about referring clinicians (as specified by the Order). On the CMA’s webpage, you can find complete information regarding the investigation and the Order.
In short, hospitals are obligated to disclose certain details regarding their relationship with consultants, such as key charges incurred and any financial stakes in the hospital owned by referring clinicians.
8. Safety Records
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the UK inspects hospitals and other health facilities. Its reports are available to the general public. You can conduct a search based on your area or the hospital’s name, and you will receive more information about the most recent inspection.
Before selecting a good private consultant, make sure to compare what the hospitals have to offer, how they differ, and what kind of care philosophy they provide. The location of the hospital will surely influence your decision, so if you have the chance, consider private hospitals within a convenient, reasonable distance so that family members can visit and long drives are avoided.
It’s normal to be nervous before a big operation or treatment, but if you have faith in the doctor’s expertise at your preferred hospital or clinic, you can rest in the knowledge that you’ve made the best choices for your private health care.