How do I access private mental healthcare?
Contact your GP
You should talk to your GP if you are thinking of getting private mental healthcare. Your GP might be able to give you details of an expert in the area of the care you need.
If your GP thinks you need specialist treatment and you want to pay for it privately, they can write a letter passing your details on to a private consultant or specialist explaining your condition and your medical history. This is called a referral.
Some private healthcare services do not need a referral from your GP but prefer to have one. Others will expect you to have one, especially if you are using private medical insurance.
If your GP doesn’t think you need specialist treatment, you can try and get it without a referral. The British Medical Association (BMA) says that it’s best practice for GPs to make a referral for specialist treatment in most cases.
Private healthcare services and the NHS often work closely together. Your NHS trust may get a local private hospital to provide treatment for NHS patients.
You can find a private healthcare provider or specialist by looking online.
The Independent Healthcare Advisory Services has a list of private healthcare providers under the members directory on their website.
Some organisations set standards for good practice. They are known as ‘professional associations’ or ‘official bodies’. You could try contacting the professional association or body for the area of treatment. Some of their websites have directories where you can search for private specialists. For example, the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) sets standards for therapeutic practice and has a list of registered therapists. Northern Ireland Counselling Forum promotes quality standards in counselling community in Northern Ireland.
The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) sets standards for therapeutic practice and has a list of registered therapists.
Use a phone directory
You can search for private healthcare providers in printed or online phone directories. You could try the BT phone book, Yellow Pages or Thomson Local.
Contact a specialist NHS service
Some NHS services or units provide specialist care and treatment for particular mental illnesses. You could contact their service directly and ask if anyone there also works privately.
NHS doctors aren’t allowed to advertise private services to NHS patients, except when a treatment is only available privately. This means that if you want to know whether a doctor can treat you privately, you will need to ask.