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Paying for a private MRI

(7 Posts)
RunsforCake14 Mon 16-Oct-17 10:49:34

I've been having knee problems since the beginning of the year. I've tried physio but my knee is just getting worse.
Last week I saw my GP who said he would refer me to the Musculoskeletal Service asking for an MRI. But he told me I was likely to wait around 18 weeks for this.

My parents have offered to pay for a private MRI (around £800). The local private hospital say they need a GP or consultant's referral.

So I phoned the GP surgery to ask what the procedure was and they told me that I can't just pay for the private MRI, I have to have an initial private consultation then the MRI and then a follow up private consultation. Total cost around £1300.

If the MRI shows what the physio and GP suspect then I will need surgery. So I asked about this as well and the GP surgery told me they weren't sure if, having gone private for the MRI, I could go back to the NHS. They thought once I had gone down the route of private I had to follow it through.

Does anyone have any experience of this? My parents want to use their savings to help me get seen earlier but neither of us has the money to pay for private surgery. I also don't want to spend £200 on a private consultation with someone who is just going to read the GP and physio's notes and then send me for an MRI.

JohnHunter Mon 16-Oct-17 13:28:45

Who are you speaking to at the GP surgery? Someone there sounds confused.

It is very common for patients to have investigations done privately or even overseas and then need the NHS to act on the results. You won't suddenly become ineligible for NHS treatment just because you arranged an MRI privately.

Two caveats:

1. Your GP doesn't have to refer you for a private MRI and I can see why they would rather refer you to a private specialist (for consultation +/- MRI later) instead. The first reason is that their referral means you need an MRI, which might not be true. If you then pay £800 for a scan, which is normal, and the musculoskeletal team say it wasn't required in the first place, you would have a grievance against your GP. Second, if the GP is the "referring clinician", once you have the scan then they will have to act on the result. Usually (but not always) patients are sent for MRI scans by a specialist (e.g. an orthopaedic surgeon) who will then know what to do with you next. The GP is probably unenthusiastic about receiving a report like this and having to advise you about next steps.

2. Private patients can't jump the NHS queue. You can have the MRI done privately but will still almost certainly have to wait the same 18 weeks to see the Musculoskeletal Service. If you arrive there with an MRI then that might save some time (assuming they would have ordered one) but it's probably not going to get you very much further ahead overall.

£800 is steep for an MRI - Google suggests they can be organised for £200-300. Most private consultations with a consultant come in at around £250 and I suppose you'd need one to assess you clinically and a second to receive/discuss the MRI result.

Google also suggests that there are clinics that will scan without a doctors' referral. I don't think this is particularly responsible but they do appear to exist.

usainbolt Mon 16-Oct-17 16:46:26

Are you sure that it is 18 weeks for the MRI?

I have knee "issues" and was sent to the Surgeon and was seen in about 3 weeks then MRI 4 weeks later and my operation is scheduled to be in the 18 week window.

My MRI was at 7.00 on a Sunday morning - fantastic service

RunsforCake14 Mon 16-Oct-17 16:59:03

Thanks. I spoke to someone on reception who admitted they weren't completely sure of the procedure if I went private.

The GP I saw said he was asking the Musculoskeletal service to do an MRI because he felt that that was the only way to know what was going on. He said it was an 18 week wait and that I may not even get an MRI in the time. That might just get me an appointment with a consultant.

I've got the name of someone else at the surgery to talk to who might know a bit more about it. But it looks like I might need to pay for a private consultation first then MRI then follow up. I'm not sure I want my parents to pay that much.

CandyMelts Mon 16-Oct-17 17:36:50

Don't rely on the receptionist, I was told all kinds of rubbish when trying to get a private referral recently. My MRI is costing £720 for head and neck so pricing doesn't seem too out of line, pre and post consultant visits required too at about £250 each.

HerLadySheep Mon 16-Oct-17 18:01:46

I had a private knee MRI in the Midlands about 18 months ago and it cost £250. I had a referral from my GP at no cost, the scan cost including the report from a radiologist which was then sent to my GP and treating Consultant.
I had surgery on the NHS, I only had the scan done privately due to claustrophobia, the private clinic sedated me for the scan.
Shop around for private scans, the cost varies hugely.

DubiousCredentials Mon 16-Oct-17 19:55:53

Dh recently had a neck and spine mri. He was referred by his chiropractor. Gp not involved at all. Was under £500 for two “zones” so £800 for one knee seems very steep!

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