When you have seen your GP for a medical condition they may feel in necessary to refer you to a hospital Consultant for further investigations. A referral to a Private Consultant can be done by way of a letter from your GP and sent by fax or post. Many private hospitals will also offer a secure online mail system for referral letters.
If your GP does not know which Consultant to refer you to, ensure you know the field of medicine your consultant needs to specialise in; you can then research the private specialist consultants who practice in that area and choose your consultant independently. Likewise if you have Private Medical Insurance cover, your insurer may be able to provide you with the contact details of specialist consultants who are registered with them and cover the specialism you require.
A consultant will be registered with the General Medical Council and will specialise in a specific area of medicine such as surgery, pathology, psychiatry, cardiology, neurology and oncology. The condition you have or your GP thinks you may have will be the deciding factor or which medical specialist you need to see. If there is more than one condition then you may need to be under more than one specialist and they would work together to ensure you receive the right treatment. A consultant will often lead a team who will examine, diagnose and decide on the treatment path required for each referral.
Specialists consultants often work from one or more medical facilities (often both NHS and Private) and appointments are generally made via their medical secretary. Appointments to see a Private Consultant whether you are covered by Private Medical Insurance or you are going to self-fund your treatment are available within a matter of days.
On the NHS you have the right to consultant led treatment for non-emergency procedures within 18 weeks from when your GP, dentist or other healthcare professional refers you and if cancer is suspected you have the right to be seen within 2 weeks from when your GP refers you. For many people waiting this long to be seen by a specialist is not acceptable and they therefore opt to see a private consultant.
Specialist Consultants and Private Medical Insurance
If you have a Private Medical Insurance policy in place and want to claim for treatment lead by a consultant then you must ensure that you pre-authorise your claim with your insurer. The Insurance provider will advise you if the consultant you have chosen is recognised by them or if the consultant charges over their current fee guidelines which would result in a shortfall in payment.