Pancreatic cancer and private healthcare

The information on this page covers some key things to think about if you are considering private healthcare.

We know that sometimes people consider private healthcare for pancreatic cancer.

If you are thinking about private healthcare, you should speak to your GP or NHS consultant. They will give you information that is relevant to your circumstances. This will help you understand your options and decide whether NHS, private healthcare, or a combination of both is best for you.

You should also speak to your GP or NHS consultant if you are thinking about private healthcare outside the UK. They may not know about the healthcare system of the country you are planning to go to, but might be able to help you think about the pros and cons.

The information on our website is based on NHS care. It might not show the experience of being treated in a private hospital. For example, the health professionals looking after you may be different in a private hospital than if you were in an NHS hospital.

What is the difference between private and NHS care?

Private care is healthcare that you, or your health insurance if you have it, pays for.

If you are thinking about going private for a second opinion, it might be sensible to also keep any existing NHS appointments.

The type of treatment you get in a private hospital is likely to be similar to what you would get in an NHS hospital. You may have more direct contact with your consultant in a private hospital. But you may have less access to other health professionals, like a specialist nurse or dietitian.

Not all tests and treatments are available at all private hospitals, so do check.

Why might some people choose private healthcare?

  • Some people choose to use private healthcare for pancreatic cancer tests and treatment. There are different reasons people might choose to go private.
  • They prefer to have private healthcare, and have health insurance or their own funds to pay for it. They might be able to get some pancreatic cancer tests, treatment or a second opinion more quickly in a private hospital. They may also have more choice about which hospital to be treated in and which doctor to see.
  • People may want to get treatments or medicines that are not available on the NHS and need to be paid for privately. This may include treatment that has not been approved for use in the NHS. It might also include treatment that has not been through a full clinical trial to test how well it treats pancreatic cancer. This means there may be limited information about how well the treatment works.

Can I have NHS and private treatment?

You can have NHS treatment at the same time as paying for extra private treatment. There are some rules about how this works. Read the government guidance about this.

How do I pay for private healthcare?

You can pay for your treatment from your own money or through your health insurance. It’s really important to know the details of your health insurance policy, if that’s how you are going to pay. Check that your policy will cover all your tests and treatment. Look out for limits or restrictions on what they will cover, for example limits on the number of rounds of treatment like chemotherapy.

Be aware that some doctors are registered with certain private health insurance companies. If you want to see a particular doctor, check that they are on your health insurance company’s list of providers.

Things to ask if you are thinking about private healthcare

  • How quickly will I be seen if I go private?
  • Do I need to be referred to access private treatment?
  • What support will I get from other health professionals if I go privately? Does the hospital have a specialist dietitian or clinical nurse specialist?
  • Does the private hospital offer all the treatments I may need?
  • How will my NHS care be affected if I have tests, a second opinion or any treatment privately?
  • I have medical insurance, will it cover all my treatment and are there any limits or restrictions?
  • I’m paying for my own treatment, how much will it cost?
  • What happens if my insurance doesn’t cover all the treatment, or I can’t afford to pay for it all?
  • If I can’t cover all the costs, how easy will it be for the NHS to pick up the rest of my treatment? Could this cause any delays to my treatment?
  • Will my NHS medical team keep in touch with the private team?

Questions about private healthcare?

Ask our specialist nurses any questions you have about private healthcare and pancreatic cancer.

Speak to our nurses

Published July 2023

Review date July 2025