Why Britons are going private to see GPs

As a recent YouGov survey has revealed that one in eight Britons has paid for private healthcare in the preceding year, a new private GP service has opened in Merseyside.

Formby GP is a private GP service in Freshfield, run by married couple Dr Heather Ryan and Dr John Cosgrove. Heather and John launched Formby GP in January. Clinical Director Dr John Cosgrove says, “It’s no surprise that patients are turning to the private sector.

Recent media coverage of private services has focused on the potentially steep costs involved – some private providers charge up to £550 per hour. Formby GP, however, charges just £120 for a standard unhurried consultation, and £200 for a home visit within the practice area.

The team at Formby GP describe their service as “ethical”. Managing Director Dr Heather Ryan, added, “We like to think we are offering something a bit different. Some other private GP services target healthy young people by offering “wellness” treatments and screening packages. If tests are done inappropriately, they risk causing unnecessary worry, and may pick up so-called problems which weren’t causing any symptoms and would never have caused any harm.

“At Formby GP, we aim to be a traditional GP practice, focused on treating medical problems. We won’t try to sell you tests and treatments that you don’t need.”

Many people do not realise that private doctors can often refer patients back into the NHS. Dr Ryan explains, “We are able to refer patients for specialist NHS treatment. This includes urgent suspected cancer referrals.”

Clinical Director Dr John Cosgrove added, “It’s no surprise that patients and doctors alike are moving into the private sector. In recent years, NHS General Practice has become a lot busier. NHS GPs are now required to offer rapid consultations by phone and email. They cannot also offer the face to face consultations that both GPs and their patients value most. At the same time, because their workload is overwhelming, the number of NHS GPs have been decreasing for years. Many of those NHS GPs that remain are just exhausted, and surgeries struggle to offer the care that patients and GPs would both want.

“We set up Formby GP to offer face to face consultations, whether in the surgery or in patients’ home, on request. Our patients tell us that we are delivering!”


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