Weight loss surgery...going private

There is the option to pay for obesity surgery or ‘go private’: You can either ask for a private referral from your GP or look for a private clinic or hospital yourself.

Having surgery done privately can mean having your own room with en suite bathroom, personal menu and other such luxuries which, on the face of it sounds rather attractive. The other major factor here is that you do not have to wait. Rather then spend time on an NHS waiting list you could be seen within a matter of weeks.

However, none of this is cheap which means you could be looking at a rather hefty price tag!

If you are referred as a private patient in an NHS hospital then you will have these niceties as well as access to the latest technology and surgical expertise if something does go wrong. When it comes to an emergency the NHS provides an excellent service and this is something you will want to consider.

If you opt for finding your own surgeon and a private clinic or hospital then be aware that they may not have the facilities to deal with emergency cases. If you do have treatment there and something goes wrong then you may find that they do have the set up for dealing with emergencies or trauma cases. If that happens then you would need to be transferred to an NHS hospital or trauma centre.

The other aspect of this is money and the bottom line is that you will have to pay for this treatment. What you have to consider is what is included in the price? When asking for a quote does it include surgeon/anaesthetist fees? Does it include any pre-surgery treatment such as blood tests and X-rays? Does it include the vital aftercare service? These and other issues are all things you need to take into account if you are considering private treatment.

If you have private medical insurance then you may be thinking of using this to pay for your surgery. But, most insurers do not provide cover for obesity surgery. They view this as a ‘chronic condition’ (long term) and will exclude this along with other similar conditions.

However, several patients support groups are lobbying for a change of attitude towards obesity with a view to inclusion of obesity surgery in medical insurance policies.

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