Private Health Treatment
As a private patient you should complain to the doctor who treated you or the hospital or clinic you attended. Most major private hospital groups and medical insurance companies have a complaints procedure – the Independent Healthcare Association, a charity that presses for improved standards in private healthcare, has one for all its member institutions. Private clinics and hospitals, and doctors and other professionals in private practice, have third-party insurance, so if legal action arises any damages are paid by an insurance company.
If any aspect of your private care fails to meet minimum standards, no matter whether the care is paid for by you or a health insurance policy, you should consider legal action. Ask the Law Society for a list of solicitors specialising in medical malpractice, who can advise you.
You can sue for a negligent treatment. You can also sue for a breach of contract. As a private patient you have a contract with the doctor. So, if the doctor fails to perform the services for which you paid, or you received sub-standard treatment, you may be entitled to damages.
The National Care Standards Commission in England and the Care Standards inspectorate in Wales are independent patient watchdogs that regulate private and voluntary health services.
If a private health provider handles a complaint unsatisfactorily, you can refer the matter to the area office of the Commission or inspectorate. Ask for details of its complaints procedure. It will investigate your case, and if there is evidence of a breach in regulations or standards, it can order changes and improvements. It is capable of close down clinics and hospitals. However, it cannot award any financial compensation.
For more information on:
- Complaining to a Private Clinic
- Get further advice