Self-funding your private treatment: a guide to private healthcare fees in the UK.
Paying for private treatment out of your own pocket should be clear from the outset. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case. This article is about the fees that you pay when you are self-funding your treatment – often known as ‘self-pay’, the questions you should ask your consultant or GP, and how you can use our website.
Who pays their own way
In the UK around 800,000 healthcare treatments each year are privately funded, and most of these are for patients who use the NHS for most of their care needs. Most people use private medical insurance to pay for their treatment, but paying for treatment directly is becoming more common. In 2019 around one in four of all private treatments in the UK were self-funded.
Your initial consultation
Your consultant will always ask you to come in for an initial consultation before your treatment. The fee for this will vary, but tend to be around £170 to £250. A top expert might charge higher fees, and costs can vary depending on where you are, with consultants in London often charging a bit more.
Your consultant is required by law to write to you to set out the fees for the initial consultation. You should get this letter before the appointment. If you are seeing your consultant for an urgent appointment, this information can be provided to you by telephone. You should ask for the fee to be confirmed in writing just so you have a record.
Your consultant may ask you to have diagnostic tests. It is unlikely that any test will be undertaken without a diagnostic charge. The consultant must tell you if there is a fee for any diagnostic tests they do. But if the hospital does a diagnostic test the consultant may not know the fee, so make sure to ask both the consultant and hospital about fees for tests.
Paying for treatment
After you’ve met your consultant, they must send you a letter that sets out their fees for any additional diagnostic tests as well as for your treatment.
There are two main ways to pay for your treatment if you choose to self-fund it.
Many hospitals now offer a packaged price for a treatment, which bundle up things like the consultant’s charges for treatment, hospital care and aftercare charges into one fee.
If you are offered a package price, you might be given a ‘guide’ or ‘indicative’ price to begin with. The fee might change after the consultant has seen you, based on your needs.
Check what is included in the package price. For example, one hospital may include all fees for tests, treatment, follow-up appointments and physiotherapy. Another hospital may not include all of those things, even if you need them, so will charge you fees on top of the package price.
If there are complications during your treatment, and you need to stay in hospital longer than expected this may not be included in the price you have been quoted.
The hospital can talk you through this before you commit to an initial consultation.
Pay per service
Not all consultants are signed-up to package prices. If your consultant is not, you will be sent invoices for each part of your treatment and the services you use. For example, if you’re having surgery you may be charged separate invoices from
- your consultant
- the consultant anaesthetist
- the hospital
The hospital’s fee may come as pre-defined charge for all of their services, or this fee may be an itemised bill where things like medication, dressings, meals, walking aids and tests are all additional costs. You should get a letter setting out the consultant’s total fee before you agree to treatment. However, it is sometimes difficult to predict all of the additional costs, and the consultant may not include the costs charged by the hospital. It is important to ask your consultant and/or hospital to talk through the full terms and conditions until you are satisfied.
The typical fees consultants will charge for an initial consultation, the treatment, and any follow-up consultations can be found on the consultant’s PHIN profile, which you can find using our consultation search.
You can also use our interactive tool to help you understand the typical fees consultants charge in your region, which you can then compare with your consultant’s fees.