There are a number of points which the practice would like to make to our patients who wish to use “non N.H.S” medical services.
- We are happy to make referrals to private Consultants after consultation and generally refer to specialists whose clinical work we know and trust. These are often local N.H.S specialists.
- In general a specialist would expect and like a letter of referral from the G.P. The main reason is that the G.P holds the patients medical record and of course may be privy to important information which may be relevant to the situation.. It may be,of course that the specialist might ask the G.P to continue any ongoing management of the condition and wish them to be involved. Another reason is that some Insurance companies will not pay unless this has been done.
- A referral does not mean we are under any obligation to follow that specialists advice. An issue which is often clouded here is over who is going to have the ongoing clinical responsibility for that condition.This is particularly relevant to medication.
- A private specialist (even one who is also doing work in the N.H.S) cannot issue an N.H.S prescription when seeing someone privately. Virtually all Insurance policies do not cover the cost of drugs.
- It is a shock to patients when they discover how expensive some drugs are. This becomes apparent when they take the private prescription from the specialist to the chemist. Some specialists will tell you that we will prescribe it on an N.H.S prescription, but in fact we are not supposed to do this and are under no obligation to do so.
- Were we to do this (and we are not unsympathetic to the reasons which sometimes push people towards the private sector) there are two important issues.
- A doctor who signs a prescription is taking the major responsibility for the monitoring and management of the condition being treated, and hence must feel competent and be prepared to do so. The doctor will not sign prescriptions if we do not feel in a position to do this.
- G.P's are restricted under local Clinical Commissioning Group prescribing guidelines to what they are able to prescribe whereas private doctors are not.
- We do not prioritise the typing of letters etc just because someone is going the private route. Our secretary prioritises her workload on medical need only.