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NHS or private care? Good experience or bad?


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My husband, when diagnosed, was working for a company with a private healthcare scheme and we were asked whether we wanted the company to enquire about going down that route. At the time, my husband was very happy with the care he was receiving from the NHS. We were referred to our local specialist cancer centre, linked to a university hospital and the first course of treatment offered was a clinical trial - he viewed this as being in the best place, being offered the best treatment, so declined the offer of looking elsewhere. He is gone now and every single day I question every single decision we made along the way, including this one. I remember the CNS assigned to us telling my husband that they would do their very best to keep him with us for as long as possible. I never doubted her word. They never promised a cure - we hoped for that miracle every day but time ran out. I wish I could re-wind and try another course of action, see if that works, if not, rewind again, try another but that would be a miracle too.

I'm so sorry that you feel you have been let down. I do hope you find the answers you are looking for. Perhaps others will share their views too.

Take care




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I was very sorry to hear about your experiences and totally support your aim to iumprove care. It is interesting to compare not only the contrast between NHS & private care in the UK but also hospitals outside the UK. There have been various mentions on this website of state-of-the-art techniques being implemented at such hospitals and the excellent results reported.

I returned to the UK 18 months ago after having a Whipple in Belgium, where I worked for many years. It has been interesting to note the differences between the care I received there and that I am getting here.

My operation was performed in a teaching hospital in Brussels. Although my private insurance paid for the room, all medical costs were covered by the equivalent of the NHS. The care was excellent, I could not fault it in any way.

When I returned to the UK my follow-up was assigned to a UK hospital specialising in pancreatic cancer - and I immediately noted a difference in the way I was treated. I was made to feel that, as I (luckily) did not have cancer, I am a second-class citizen, with 'only' the after-effects of the Whipple to treat.

In Belgium I was having blood tests and scans every six months.

In the UK my first scan and blood tests were performed 13 months after the last ones done in Belgium.

In Belgium the results were with my GP within a couple of days and there was close communication between my GP and the hospital.

In the UK, when no results were forthcoming after 6 weeks, I emailed the surgeon's secretary to ask for them but was told that results are not normally forwarded to the GP, though in the end the results were sent, and I learned that I have an incisonal epigastric hernia. No advice provided.

I emailed the results to my surgeons in Belgium, who had asked me to keep in touch with them as they wanted to know how I am doing. They both responded within hours with kind messages and suggestions.

I firmly believe that the UK has much to learn in terms of culture and patient care. I cannot comment on the medical expertise. I can only say that so far my perception of the UK medical team is of aloof, remote, perhaps arrogant personnel. My relationship with the surgeons in Belgium was, and remains, warm and friendly. I feel that they are interested in me as a whole person.

Can the NHS learn?

Best wishes,


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