Before the NHS was founded in 1948, all doctors were private. Since then most patients have been treated by NHS doctors but private healthcare has remained as a niche, initially only for the wealthy and offered unrivalled access, contacts and knowledge.
An early and famous private GP was Lord Moran, Churchill’s doctor, about whom Churchill’s private secretary famously said: “Lord Moran was never present when history was made but he was invited to luncheon afterwards.” Lord Moran lived and worked at 121 Harley Street, now the home of Doctorcall.
Over the following decades, there were a small number of private GPs based in Harley Street, Wimpole Street, Mayfair or Knightsbridge. Patients describe them arriving in their Bentley, it being the most reliable motor car and of course they could park anywhere prior to yellow lines. The doctors would become friends of the families they looked after and were free to make their best judgements without much interference by regulation or protocol.
The world has changed in a short time – the above era is still within living memory for many. Now there is a large amount of private medicine throughout the UK and it fits closely with the NHS with each filling the gaps left by the other. For the patient, private healthcare offers choice and direct access to the best healthcare.
However, as democratisation takes hold, inevitably some of private medicine’s qualities are lost. At the present time, the private medical insurance companies are in the process of removing the GPs’ choice of specialist and instead asking for generic referrals, allowing the insurance company to allocate the cheapest specialist. Additionally, new regulations are bringing protocols in across the board. For the private GP, working in the private sector still allows the doctor to think independently and perform to the best of his ability, unhampered by the restraints of outwardly-imposed time limits.
For many patients, their circumstances are integral to their health, whether it is an important engagement they need to be on good form for, or the pressures of their lifestyle impacting on their wellbeing. Protocol driven medicine does not take personal circumstances into account and a large part of the niche filled by private GPs nowadays is helping patients attain practical goals.
For the demographic group who used private GPs after The War, the top private GPs are still able to find ways around the limitations and restrictions that are placed on them and can still access the very best treatment in the world, although they now need to take a global view in some situations, as, even though London is still a leading medical centre, the UK is no longer the world leader it once was in all disciplines. This is sometimes known as concierge medicine or health advocacy, but it is just a part of what private GPs have always done.
Doctorcall aims to provide modern private GP services to both individuals and companies, using the latest resources but drawing on our long experience to provide access to the best healthcare that can be found.