We all know that early diagnosis gives a far better life expectancy and yet the NHS in England has repeatedly failed to meet its own targets for treatment.
The BBC has reported that at least 85% of patients should be starting treatment within 62 days of a GP referral for suspected cancer but this summer that target failed to be met for the third quarter in a row.
One of the main causes seems to be a severe shortage of radiologists on the NHS available to do those vital diagnostic tests.
Of course the easy answer is that a good Private Medical Insurance policy will provide you with a consultant’s appointment and diagnostic testing within days of seeing your GP. But I do understand that for some people the budget just won’t stretch that far.
I’ve been looking at alternatives for people put in this unbearably stressful situation: knowing they may be seriously ill but unable to get the confirmation and treatment they desperately need.
There are three ways around the delays and waiting lists if Private Medical Insurance isn’t a viable option for you.
- You can always pay to go private.
Some people make the mistake of thinking if you don’t have insurance, a private treatment is not available but it is. Paying your own way is expensive but if you are worried and stressed about the wait, simply tell your GP you will pay and you’ll get the answers you need far more quickly.
- You or your partner may have a Cash Plan
Cash plans offer much more limited cover than Private Medical Insurance but many companies offer some sort of Health Cash Plan as a staff benefit. It’s always worth looking at what’s covered – some will pay for basic tests which will put you in the picture straight away.
- You can take out insurance that just covers diagnostics
For most people it’s the not knowing that is worst. Some providers do offer “mini” plans which cover you for diagnostic tests but no more. These are much cheaper than a full insurance policy and although you are then faced with the NHS waiting list vs the expense of going privately, you do at least know where you are. A diagnostic plan like this is often less than £5 a week.
There are a few other clever and intricate ways to cover the NHS shortfall on this type of thing, and, as always, I’m happy to chat through options if you’re concerned. You don’t have to be a customer, and there is no obligation to commit to a plan – but as with everything in life, (God forbid you find yourself in this sort of situation) it’s always worth asking.
PS If you’re worried about waiting lists or the limited options available to you on the NHS, I can help you cost out a Private Medical Insurance policy for yourself and/or your family. You can read more about it here, or give me a call on 0800 690 6990 for a free, no obligation quote.