What's the difference between different types of British healthcare?

Two medical staff in an operating theatre

There are two main choices for healthcare in the UK: the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) or private. If you can afford to choose, you might like to know what the differences are.

Medical procedures on the NHS can mean a long waiting time and you don’t always have your own room in hospital.

Private care usually means you get faster treatment, more options for treatment, a choice of locations for treatment and a private room.

Be aware however, that private healthcare doesn’t mean you will necessarily get better treatment than you do on the NHS. Although the private system and the NHS are separate, they work together.

While this might seem strange, the reason is that the NHS has most of the best hospitals and medical specialists in the UK – and even internationally, in some cases (for example, Great Ormond Street children’s hospital).

Most private healthcare doctors and surgeons also work for the NHS. Often, operations take place in NHS hospitals. Sometimes the opposite happens and NHS treatment takes place in private hospitals.

For more information about private medical care, see www.privatehealth.co.uk

The Care Quality Commission gives information about the quality of both private and NHS hospitals.

Image: Peter Titmuss/Dreamstime

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