It’s fair to say that we live in tough times for the NHS. Every winter seems to bring a crisis, waiting lists for treatment are long, and many people struggle to access their GP in a timely manner. Though the NHS budget has recently been increased, it is thought this alone will not resolve the problems that continue to blight the service.
For those of us seeking assistance with health, and health-related, issues, the problems facing the NHS have direct consequences on our ability to access care. The impact of the struggle has been service-wide, with dentists, GPs, and specialist consultations all completely over-subscribed. The situation has become critical, and many people find that they simply can’t access the healthcare they require as a result – or at least, they can’t access it without excessive delays.
So, what are the alternatives?
#1 – Private health insurance
Private health insurance can be useful, but it has two serious downsides. First and foremost, you will usually need to obtain a referral from your GP before you can visit a specialist – which means you’ll still need to wait for a doctor’s appointment. Secondly, if you have a preexisting condition that requires treatment, you will not be covered for this condition under a new policy. As a result, if you are considering private healthcare, then you should see it as a solution for future problems, rather than an avenue to explore to deal with current issues.
#2 – Seek healthcare abroad
There are a variety of different treatments that you can obtain overseas. Most commonly, people explore this avenue for cosmetic treatments; visiting the first digital smile design clinic in Australia or visiting Eastern European countries for plastic surgery. However, overseas healthcare options often extend into standard healthcare too, and recent statistics have shown this is becoming a common option – so it may be worth exploring if you are struggling with life on a waiting list.
#3 – Try online options
Mental health treatment suffers from incredibly long waiting lists, with many patients being forced to wait for months before they can be seen by a specialist. If you find yourself in this position, it may be worth considering online options for counselling and CBT. While this type of treatment is unlikely to be sufficient in the long-term, it can be a helpful and affordable way to allow you to manage the wait for proper treatment.
As well as mental health and counselling services, you can also obtain basic physical care via online services and apps also. These are not particularly comprehensive, and most will likely refer anything but the most basic issues back to your GP, but they can be useful if you have an ear infection or need a fit note for your employer, as appointments are usually available same-day – which is far more convenient than waiting for a week to see a GP.
If you are finding it difficult to obtain the healthcare you need on the NHS, the options above may well be worth exploring further if you require treatment sooner rather than later.