Confused? NHS or private

Hi Gul

I would go for the Marsden as they are world famous and only treat cancer - the same reason why I have chosen Christies in Manchester!

I work for a private medical insurer but despite having the cover have opted to go NHS for my cancer treatment to date. My GP recommended this, as he said that the teams in NHS hospitals - surgeons, nurses, oncologists- work together very much more effectively than in the private sector. Now, I know from my work that many insured customers also get excellent treatment, but they do have the added worry of trying to get the doctors/hospitals/insurers to co-ordinate with each other about the bills and treatment plans. The waits on the NHS are indeed very slightly longer than I would expect to see for a private patient, but it’s a matter of days, not weeks. The treatment itself is excellent, and everyone knows exactly what they’re doing - and the hospital is in the middle of town, unlike the private place, which is impossible to get to when you can’t drive!

I used my health insurance for my bc. It took one week from GP to surgery, and when I had to go back for full clearance & remarginalisation it was just 10 days later. I had a mammogram, fine needle aspiration, ultrasound, liver ultrasound, heart scan and bone scan (at NHS hospital but I got results immediately, not a week later like everybody else in the waiting room - I thought that was wrong). On the NHS I’d have had to wait about 8 weeks, which as I had grade 3, 45 mm tumour, would have been very stressful.

So far (just finished chemo) the bills amount to £18K for two operations, one procedure and 4 FEC and 4 TAX. I got the chemo at home, which was very convenient for me as I live very rurally. I was admitted to an NHS hospital when I developed phlebitis and am in the process of making a complaint about the treatment I received at their specialist oncology department For example, they put antibiotics straight from the fridge into my veins and wondered why they seized. I ended up warming the antibiotic packs between my legs as the saline went through the pump in an effort to stop my veins seizing. I had to have a Hickman Line put in after that experience (included in the £18K).

I suppose I have missed the support of other women with bc - but I made friends through this website and a group of us meet quite regularly.

I am about to start radiotherapy - at the same NHS hospital, but the advantage of doing it privately is that I get to choose the time of my treatments, rather than at the convenience of the medical profession - which is a refreshing change! My consultant will also be seeing me every week.

Of course, the NHS hospital is about an hour away from my house, whereas the private hospital was only 20 minutes away - and I could park for free! This is going to be tiresome when I start the rads (25).

If I got bc for the first time now, I wouldn’t hesitate to use my insurance. It’s an incredible advantage to always see the same person, the consultant, not some “wet behind the ears” registrar (who insisted it was ok to take blood from my left arm even though my lymph nodes had been removed only 2 months before - I had to refuse treatment at that point).

I hope you find this helpful in making a decision.

Hi there…I am new on here too, so apologise if I repeat what someone else has already said.

I was diagnosed early August with Grade 1 lobular. Within 10 days I had been given bone scan, bloods, chest x-ray and liver/abdominal scans. No questions asked - it scared the living cr*p out of me at the time. Thankfully they all came back clear but I am so glad I had them done. This was all done on the NHS. I think these tests depend on many things, age being one of them, but my consultant did say he was confident they would come back clear but it was all done as a precaution.
I am in a London Borough PCT by the way.

If I had private cover i would doubtless have used it - but my consultant would have been the same person regardless - it is worth checking if the consultant you choose also works with the NHS.

I hope this helps you just a little bit and good luck - I know exactly how you are feeling and it’s not a nice place to be x