Patients across Tayside and Fife are increasingly looking into private healthcare services as the NHS struggles to meet demand.
As waiting times for operations and routine tests grow, some independent healthcare companies are reporting ‘double digit growth‘ in demand for pay-as-you-go GP services.
And the ‘worried well’ are also turning to private health companies like Bupa for check ups and consultations.
But what happens when you go private for a health assessment, can it be done locally, and how much does it cost?
I booked a health assessment with Bupa to find out.
Where do you go for a private health assessment?
There are Bupa clinics in Aberdeen and Edinburgh or you can book a home health check video call if you can’t travel.
Anyone can book for pay-as-you-go, you don’t need to be a Bupa member.
I went to Spire Murrayfield Hospital in Edinburgh for the Bupa lifestyle and health assessment.
Before the appointment I filled out a Bupa online questionnaire about my lifestyle, exercise, health concerns and mental wellbeing.
This gives patients a snapshot of their health before the full report with test results arrives.
What happens at the health check?
I found the health assessment very thorough and professional.
First I spent an hour with a nurse who explained every test, the reason for each and what the results might mean. Then it was on to the tests:
- Blood tests – for type 2 diabetes, anaemia and cholesterol.
Having suffered from anaemia in the past – and sometimes feeling fatigued, I was interested to find out the results.
- Body fat percentage – this was calculated by a small device attached to my arm.
- Height and weight measured – to assess BMI.
- Blood pressure checked.
- Bowel screening – I was given a poo sample kit to take away and send back.
- Flexibility and mobility – I was asked to do various exercises (standing on each leg with eyes closed, squat, rotation etc).
I’m a relatively active person so I didn’t think the flexibility and balance tests would be that challenging. Health experts say the ability to stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 15 seconds or more is now seen as an indicator of longevity.
But it isn’t as easy as it sounds! I could do it on the right leg but not on the left – which was an eye-opener for me about how fit I think I am compared to the reality.
Time with a GP
The nurse was fantastic, caring and professional. He asked about my life, physical and mental wellbeing, how I was feeling generally and any support I may need.
Then I had an hour with a GP to discuss any health concerns and have a general medical examination. Breast examination and smear tests are also available if required.
The GP was excellent, fully answering my questions and advising. She also offered to write to my own GP for further treatment if need be.
Having not visited a GP since before the pandemic, I felt surprised at how valuable – and reassuring – I found our conversation.
I was surprised my results were emailed to me within 48 hours.
The easy-to-read but very comprehensive report gave normal ranges for each test, my own readings and any further action needed.
Body fat and cholesterol, for example, were higher than I expected and advice was given on how to improve this.
My poo sample result came back within a week and, I’m happy to say, it was a relief to hear it was fine.
Each assessment and report is tailored to the individual so people with existing health conditions will receive unique advice or follow-up, too.
How much does it cost?
The assessment I had included a medical examination and time with a GP, a full results report, recommendations action plan, a follow-up call and access to a 24/7 health helpline.
It costs £725 for a two hour review. Video call health checks with a GP cost £289. Across the wider market, private health and fitness check up prices start around £500.
If you’re looking for a private consultation with a GP locally, without tests, these start around £100.
Was going private worth the price?
I’m fortunate to have health insurance, with the annual health check-up included, so didn’t have to pay-as-you-go.
And there’s no doubt £725 is a substantial investment in your health.
Of course having the tests won’t make you healthy – and the NHS do offer some of these tests. But I must admit that getting some reassurance on blood tests, cholesterol levels, a medical examination and talking to a GP helped calm my health anxiety.
I’d say if your health is causing you concern and you are looking for support quickly, then going private to get fast results could be an investment worth making.