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How Medicare works in England

The National Health Service which is England’s public health service is mainly responsible to provide Healthcare in England. The healthcare expenditure is paid for from general taxation and is free at the point of use. The healthcare provision in England is dominated by public system, private system and a wide variety of alternative treatments are available for those people who are willing to pay the fee.

A formal constitution has been recently adopted by NHS which for the first time as well. It lays down the objectives, the rights and responsibilities of the various parties and the guiding principles which govern the service. 

Working of the NHS

A patient who needs specialist care at a clinic or hospital will be informed by the GP of the hospitals where they can get the treatment. This choice has to be made between private and public hospitals. If the hospital meets the service criteria and costs that NHS hospitals adhere to then the NHS will pay for treatment in a private hospital. Otherwise on choosing a private hospital makes the patient has to bear the hospital expenditure.

If the GP judges the case to be extremely urgent, the doctor may arrange an emergency admission. The median waiting time to get in touch with a consultant led first appointment in hospitals is approximately 3 weeks.

Waiting Time

Patients can be seen by the hospital as in-patients or out-patients, with the former involving an overnight stay. The speed of in-patient admission is based on medical need and waiting time with more urgent cases faster through all cases will be dealt with eventually. Approximately one-third of hospital admissions are from a waiting list. Approximately 6 weeks is the median wait time for in-patient treatment in the hospitals for those patients who are not admitted immediately.

Treatment and Billing

Almost all NHS hospital treatment along with drugs administered, surgical consumables and appliances issued or loaned are free of charge in a hospital. However, if a patient has chosen to be treated in an NHS hospital as a private fee-paying patient, then the patient will be billed. Emergency Department treatment is also free of charge. A nurse, on arrival, prioritises all patients. The Department is always attached to an NHS hospital which enables them to provide medicare within 4 hours to the patients. Private hospitals do not provide emergency care services.

Palliative Care

Through Palliative Care Specialist Nurses, the NHS also provides end of life palliative care. The expertise of organisations in the voluntary sector can also be commissioned by the NHS to help palliative care. Few examples of such organisations are Sue Ryder Care, Marie Curie Cancer Care, and Macmillan Cancer Support.

These services are designed for all palliative conditions. All the services are all free of charge to the patient and are provided to support both the patient and their relatives during as well as after the dying process.

Private Healthcare

England also has a thriving private health care sector which is sometimes paid by employers as part of medical insurance benefits package to their employees. Most people prefer to retain their GP at NHS as the first point of contact and most private care is for specialist referrals.

The private sector has started some subcontracting work for the NHS, therefore such services can ensure that the patients can be treated in the private-sector as an NHS patient.