Healthcare Services In The UK

Healthcare Services In The UK
Healthcare services in the UK fall under two distinct categories, the National Health Service, provided as part of the Welfare State, and the private healthcare offered by numerous private clinics, hospitals and dental centres across the country. The main advantage of private heathcare is its immediacy, as waiting times for many treatments and operations are often unacceptably long.

The National Health Service (NHS) is open to all UK residents, with its first line of defence against disease the General Practitioner (GP) system. Local doctors are found in all UK districts and require registration as a local resident before services are offered. In the case of more serious illnesses, the patient is referred to a local NHS hospital’s out-patient department by appointment.

Once an appointment has been given, the patient will see a junior doctor and undergo any necessary tests. On analysis of test results, immediate treatment, further tests and/or an operation will be carried out, and a consultant’s opinion may be sought. For tests, operations and appointments with consultant-level surgeons, a place on a waiting list is given, with an immediate operation rare unless the patient’s condition is critical.

For emergency diagnosis and treatment, all larger NHS hospitals have casualty departments (emergency rooms), with staff on duty 24/7. Expect long queues for treatment, particularly on weekend evenings and during public holidays. Some smaller hospitals have been forced to close these departments due to financial pressure.

A similar process takes place within private hospitals, normally without extended waiting periods, and at cost to the patient. Charges, especially for complicated diagnoses, operations and aftercare are high, with private health insurance the best idea if time is of the essence. A number of companies provide this, with a list of permitted private hospitals dependent on the financial level of insurance purchased.

Dental treatment of any kind is becoming rare to receive under the NHS, with most dentists opting to go private and the remaining few limited to patients in their immediate area. Within London, most NHS dentists’ patient lists are now crammed full, with local residents forced to travel miles to find a spot on another dentist’s list. Dental treatment can be purchased as an optional extra on most private health insurance plans.

Most drugs cannot be purchased from pharmacies in the UK without a doctor’s prescription. NHS patients pay a government-determined amount for each drug on the prescription, no matter its true cost to the NHS. Many commonly-prescribed therapies are not on the official drugs list and can be purchased more cheaply from the pharmacy.