Accident and Emegency
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The Differences Between Treatment in Private and NHS Hospitals

One of the main benefits of Private Medical Insurance (PMI) is that if the worst should happen and you fall ill or are injured, you will receive treatment in a private hospital rather than an NHS ward. But what are the main benefits of this? What are private wards like? Which one would you rather recover in?


This article will attempt to answer these questions.


One of the major benefits of private hospitals over NHS care is the privacy you get. If you take out a healthcare insurance policy and have a stay in a private hospital, you will be given a room of your own, rather than staying on a ward with others in an NHS hospital. 

Privacy is one of the features of PMI that many people seem to value, as it allows them to recover in a quieter, more secluded environment. Isn’t it better to have your own space to recuperate, rather than a small area surrounded by a curtain? 

En-Suite Facilities

Another benefit of the private hospital is the en-suite facilities that are included with the private room. En-suite makes the stay in hospital rather more comfortable; rather more like a hotel than a hospital. 


Many NHS wards share a bathroom between 3 or 4 people; in a private en-Suite hospital room, you can bathe and wash at your leisure.  It’s this sort of benefit that elevates the private environment to a higher standard.


It is well known that in state hospitals the food can leave a little to be desired! This is understandable as NHS budgets are tight and feeding people higher quality food is not always a priority. 

In 2014 The Daily Mail reported that some NHS hospitals were spending only 89p per meal on food for patients. In private hospitals, the situation is different – diet is much more valued, and private hospital food is renowned to be of much better quality. 

In a private hospital room, you will often be presented with an A La Carte menu, and a much fresher and healthier selection of food, snacks and drinks during your stay. This often has the effect of lifting morale of patients, as well as helping them to get better quicker. 


Imagine eating Coq Au Vin washed down with a glass of wine of an evening on a private ward – surely that sounds much more civilised than a standard hospital meal and a glass of water?


It is widely acknowledged that the standards of hygiene and cleanliness in private hospitals is generally superior to NHS hospitals. 

Super bugs like MRSA are less common in private hospitals, as are other infections that can cause complications. Private hospitals spend more on cleaning than the NHS, and pride themselves on their cleanliness standards and record.

Air conditioning

This is an underrated feature of private healthcare…especially in summer! Air con is not an essential feature, but makes your stay that much more comfortable; again, making your stay more like a hotel than a hospital. 

In room facilities (Satellite TV, Radio and phone)

Being stuck in a hospital bed for days or weeks can be boring – the TV and radio in private hospitals make it easier to bear. 

You may have the similar facilities in the NHS, but you will almost always have to pay extra for them. In private, the cost is included. 

Also – a phone in your hospital room can be invaluable for keeping in contact with friends and family, even if you have a mobile (as the signal will usually be better). 

Free car parking

This one is mainly for your friends and family who come to visit you. NHS car park fees for visitors can soon begin to add up, so parking for free really makes sense. A Private Medical Insurance policy holder can also benefit from this perk as an outpatient, if they have gone in just for a scan or consultation. 


Private wards


Just because you have private medical cover, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be admitted to a private hospital for treatment. Many NHS hospitals now have private units in addition to the standard wards.


These private wards have all the benefits and amenities of a private Hospital, but just within an NHS context.


You, or your private medical insurance company, will still pay for these services, just as you would at a wholly private hospital, and you will still be seen privately by your consultant, even if he or she also works for the NHS at the hospital. (


It is also now law that NHS patients can request treatment in a private hospital. This policy was brought in to take the strain off the NHS system at busy times. The number of patients who have use of this option is relatively small.   



It’s worth remembering and putting in context the fact that although private hospitals are a considerable benefit of Private Medical Insurance, they are by no means the main one. Many people who take PMI say that their cover gives them a level of comfort and peace of mind to know their family is protected.


Practically, many holders of PMI policies probably cite the rapid and priority access to leading medical experts as the leading benefit of health insurance.


Taken all together, these factors add up to a powerful case for private health. The benefits of private hospitals are a part of a larger package of benefits that many find persuasive.