Pregnancy: Private or NHS?

In the UK, it is possible to have private or public healthcare; the NHS offers all UK citizens a vast range of medical services and will cater for all aspects of antenatal and postnatal care. There are advantages and disadvantages of both public and private healthcare and the articles below will outline some of the major differences.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of going private?

Private healthcare gives the patient more choice; in most cases, patients can choose which hospital they want to go to and which consultant they want to see. Private hospitals are generally more modern, spacious and comfortable than NHS hospitals and you will be able to have your own room, rather than being on a ward. Private care is also more geared towards the individual as there is a higher staff to patient ratio; you may also be able to have the same care team the whole why through your pregnancy, which will enable you to build a strong and trusting relationship with the staff.

The major disadvantage of private care is the cost; for many people, private healthcare is simply not affordable. There are also not as many private hospitals as NHS hospitals so you may have to travel a bit further for your appointments; if the hospital or clinic you choose is a long way from your home, this can be a problem if you suddenly go to labour and you may end up delivering your baby in an NHS hospital after all.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of NHS care?

We are lucky to have a huge range of services available to us free of charge in the UK; the NHS provides free medical care for all UK citizens and this includes comprehensive antenatal and postnatal care. The most significant difference between NHS and private care is the cost; NHS care is free and private care can cost thousands of pounds. The NHS offers all the services covered by private providers; however, you may not be able to have as much of a say in your care as you would i you went private.

If you choose to have maternity care on the NHS, you may not have as much choice as if you were to choose private care; normally, you will not have a choice of midwife or consultant and you may not be able to have your own room. NHS hospitals are very busy, with hundreds of people being cared for at the same time, so it’s best to be realistic about the environment you will be living in for a couple of days while you have your baby; NHS hospitals are not as modern and glitzy as private hospitals and you may have to wait a little longer to be seen as the staff to patient ratio is lower than in most private hospitals.

Which services are available on the NHS?

The NHS covers all areas of antenatal care and postnatal care; this includes routine ultrasound scans at 12-13 weeks and 19-20 week scans, as well as any additional scans that are needed, blood tests, physical examinations (if needed), antenatal classes, maternity care and follow up care by midwives and health visitors. Your newborn baby’s health will also be covered by the NHS as soon as they are born. The NHS offers all the same services as the private organisations; however, you may have to wait a little longer and you may see a variety of different members of staff, rather than the same care team.

Is private care widely available?

There are many private maternity units and clinics which cater for pregnant women; a large number of them are in London but clinics can be found all over the UK. You can find out about private clinics in your area by searching on the internet or visiting clinic’s websites; your GP may also know about local private clinics.

How much should I expect to pay for private care?

Every clinic and hospital is different and fees may vary; fees are usually higher in London and the South than the North, however this is not always the case. Fees will also be higher if the consultant you choose has a lot of expertise and experience.

Most clinics and hospitals offer different packages, which include different aspects of your antenatal and maternity care; the fees will vary according to the services included in the package. If you choose a complete package, which includes scans, tests, maternity care and postnatal care, you should expect to pay at least £5,000. Packages that are less comprehensive will be cheaper. It is possible to book certain treatments privately and have the rest on the NHS; for example you can arrange to have a caesarean section in a private hospital and have all your antenatal care at an NHS clinic or hospital; you should expect to pay around £2,000 to £3,000 for a private caesarean section.

If you have private health insurance, your care may be covered; however, many policies exclude maternity and antenatal care, so make sure you check the details of your insurance plan carefully before you go ahead and arrange private care.

How should I make the decision?

You need to weigh up all the pros and cons of going private and going with the NHS; perhaps the most important thing to consider is the cost of the treatment. You need to think about whether you can afford to have private treatment and you need to think whether the cost is justified; going private definitely has its advantages but the service is essentially the same. The vast majority of women have their antenatal and maternity care provided by the NHS and most are very happy with the service they get but if you want to ensure that you get lots of privacy, continuous care and more comfortable surroundings, you may wish to consider going private. If you know people that have had a baby at a private clinic, you can ask them about their experience and likewise with friends or relatives who have had their children at an NHS hospital.

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved