Private rheumatologist

My gp has referred me to rheumatology after an ultrasound showed synovitis. I last saw a rheumatologist in 2013 and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and cfs after only a blood test was negative for RA. The appointment then was 5 minutes long and I felt ignored and miserable afterwards. Since then joint pain has got much worse and is affecting more and more joints. Rather than wait until September for my NHS appointment which may well be another 5 minute snap diagnosis, I am using my credit card to 'buy' an appt. This week. I don't really have funds to continue privately though - I just want a chance to feel properly assessed. Has anyone else moved between private and NHS care? Thanks.

12 Replies

  • I paid privately for my first appt which was at least 30 mins long. I then transferred to NHS and each time I see the same consultant that I saw privately. It was well worth paying to be seen sooner and getting the right diagnosis.

  • Thanks, that's helpful and good to know. Did you have to pay for any additional tests? Even blood tests are nearly £90!

  • I paid for the consultation and a steroid injection. The consultant then arranged for me to have xrays and further blood tests at the NHS hospital which was done fairly quickly(within 6 weeks) after that.

  • It seems to work OK if you see a private rheumatologist who also works for the NHS in your area, so you can transfer to their NHS list. It didn't work for me, when I saw a rheumatologist outside my region, and the NHS rheumatologist I ended up with decided he didnt agree with the private rheumatologist assessment.

  • I went private for my initial rheumy appts and then transferred to the same rheumy on the nhs. At my private appts he paid attention to me, wrote lots of notes, smiled and joked and the appt lasted an hour. At the nhs appts with the same man he never looks me in the face and throws me out within 5 minutes.

    The private costs were high. £600 blood tests. £500 ultrasound of hand. Appt cost around £150 a time. I had some private health insurance cover but it ran out with just the blood test and the ultrasound.

    I am finding the standard of care on the Nhs appalling. There are no rheumy nurses, no reception area, just a scribbled note on the wall saying that if you've come to see the rheumy, sit in this chair. No das scores made. No way of contacting rheumy between appts. No scans or X-rays. I feel fortunate that I had enough money to get a bit of private care up front before I was dropped into the abyss of the nhs, which I had no prior experience of.

  • Hi

    I have just come across this post and I know it is far too late to be answering but I am staggered at the sums you have paid for tests. The appointment charges are OK - I paid £270 for a first appt and then £170.

    You must have seen a rheumatologist at a private hospital. I find most private hospitals nowadays are American owned and their fees are exorbitant. For future reference, the London Imaging Centre in Wimpole St, London W1 provides cheap MRI and ultrasound scans but you need a referral letter from a specialist, GP, osteopath or physio, eg an MRI costs only £200 if done at the weekends which would suit most working people. Alternatively, you can get an ultrasound done at numerous walk in centres for £99 per body part (eg hand and wrist, shoulder, knee).

    For some years now (before RA started two years ago), I have had batches of blood tests done for £70. Some tests, eg thyroid, are more expensive than others but the prices you quote are eye watering.

    I think you were well and truly ripped off.

    I go to a very good hospital in Central London. The initial appt was 20 mins and subsequent ones only about 5 mins but I have had a lot of them in a short space of time. I also had an x-ray, ultrasound scans (inc one with guided injection) and an MRI plus quite a lot of blood tests. No rheumy nurse but then I see the consultant every time.

    I made a mistake with my choice of private rheumy as he was retired from the NHS and he was taking too long (in part because I had no referral letter). I had looked on the private section of NHS websites and thought the charges for tests were too high (but not as high as you quote) but others on here have said they saw a consultant privately who had an NHS appt and therefore got the tests done on the NHS.

  • Yea it was a private hospital. But don't forget that I didn't personally pay for any of it as it was covered by private health insurance, which my job pays for. And the private health insurance wouldn't authorise a place like you describe - you can only go to the pre-authorised specialists and the services that they themselves approve.

    So really, I just end up more quickly in the NHS side more quickly than I would otherwise have done.

    But very interesting info in a wider context. Thank you.

  • Yes. I moved from private to NHS. I think it was at the discretion of the consultant I saw at the time. In a nutshell, I went undiagnosed for 10 years as my GP at the time failed to diagnose or refer. I was in my teenage years, so did not know any better to push the case. I think it is possible and my situation is proof that it can happen. Hope this helps.... It was the best money I spent too :)

  • All very helpful, thanks all! Cornishrex, that's a crazy difference! Another question, what if you're having a relatively 'good' day? Things are more settled than they have been - but do they accept that the symptoms are worse sometimes than others? ? I assume that's fairly normal - but it's much harder to describe the worst times when I'm feeling better. However I guess it's noticing things that I'm finding myself almost doing without thinking - looking for higher chairs so i can get up again for instance. There's more and more accommodations. .. and good means just waking up a few times in pain - not waking up and yelping from the pain of moving! Why do joints get sorer at night??

  • Hi Polly

    I would Omit pain killers and anti inflams the day of the appointment.

    Some doctors don't realise you can have RA with a negative/normal rheumatoid factor.

    Hope you get the answers you need!

  • I'm really nervous.

  • ... and I'm sore without painkillers - good tip kikideelilli!

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