I went to a private consultant two years ago in order to speed up diagnosis and also because I was not impressed by the NHS consultant I had seen. I stayed with the same private consultant, at my nearest Nuffield Hospital until recently when I switched back to NHS care.
The main advantage of seeing a private consultant was the speed with which I could get an appointment, but now that I’ve been diagnosed a couple of years that is less important, since my NHS consultant will see me on a regular six monthly basis.
The quality of the consultant was the other issue for me. I’ve got over that problem by switching hospitals. The neurology department of the NHS hospital I’m attending now is prestigious, whereas my local hospital didn’t even have a neurology department, just visiting neurologists from another hospital running a weekly clinic, which meant no guarantee of continuity of care.
Seeing a private consultant does not bar you from seeing the NHS Parkinson’s nurse in your area, or being referred to the neurological physiotherapy service and I have used both. Unfortunately, the NHS Parkinson’s Nurse for my area took fifteen months to give me an appointment and does not always respond to phone calls, so I’ve often found the Parkinson’s UK advice line more useful.
The cost of private care is affordable if all you want is to see a consultant. I paid £160 a time. I got NHS prescriptions. I’d already had an MRI scan on the NHS before I went private, but at around £350, I could also have afforded to pay. However, I doubt whether I could afford the more expensive procedures such as DBS.
For me, in the long term, being a squeaky wheel for NHS care is probably paying off better than paying for private treatment.