Choosing a hospital is obviously easier when you have a number of hospitals within easy travel distance. This is often the case when you live in or near a large population centre.

Having been recommended or having chosen a consultant you may ultimately be influenced by where he or she has a private practice and has admitting rights. It may be however, that your consultant practices at several hospitals and so you do have a real choice.

There is a website that promises to develop into a very useful aid to you and to your GP in comparing performance data in private healthcare.  Have a look at the PHIN website.  As PHIN progresses the collection and dissemination of comparative data, you will be able do quite a lot of very helpful research for yourself. This is easy by going to the PHIN site and entering location, and the procedure – be careful to use the more professional description e.g. ‘coronary’ rather than ‘heart’. Then tick the hospitals you want to compare (up to five) and you will see ‘activity levels’ (these are relative to each hospital compared and not the actual number performed) and the average length of stay with a helpful bar graph showing ratios of nights stayed.  In the ‘contact details’ for the hospital, you will find a ‘widget’ (small box which you click) that takes you to the Care Quality Commission assessment data.

All private hospitals are regulated by the Care Quality Commission and a series of other agencies, local and governmental, have a say in setting standards in one aspect of the running of a hospital or another.

It is important to choose a hospital which is well equipped with the latest diagnostic equipment and which has appropriate surgical and critical care facilities for your type of treatment. Your GP and consultant will tell you what your treatment entails and whether they feel you local private hospital is the right place to go for treatment. It may be that you have a scan there but your surgeon may feel you need a larger hospital with enhanced or critical care facilities to help you to recover after an operation.

If the hospital facilities are appropriate, what is its record for cleanliness and healthcare acquired infections? You can check these points by visiting the website hospital directly or the Care Quality Commission. Most private hospitals have a higher than average safety record for infection rates. If you enquire and are told you will have to attend for a pre-assessment appointment where you will be tested for MRSA, that should also give you a clear indication that cleanliness is taken extremely seriously. And good hospitals always publish their infection rates on their websites for all to see.

Websites usually give information about patient feedback and if scores are in the nineties, that too is a good indicator. However, do remember even a good hospital can get some bad feedback if a few people don’t like the food they are given!  As you will see from our news post, you can now look at price comparisons for self-pay procedures.

Anecdotal feedback from friends and relatives can be useful but it may also be unreliable depending on the person you ask. A combination of the enquiries and checks you make about both your consultant and the hospital he or she recommends, should give you a good idea about its suitability.

If you have time, you can always visit the hospital and pick up some information about the place at the same time. The way you are greeted at reception will give you an idea about the ethos of the place. In most cases the hospital should also send you some information when you are booked to come in for treatment.

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