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private doctor demands high price for 1st consultation - no prior notice.


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hello peeps,

this is my first post - hello!

I have a question:

I drove my wife to a specialist doctor in London.

5 weeks after her consultation, we had a letter with an invoice for £290.

The initial consultation lasted about 25 minutes.

At no time was it explained to us that the initial consultation would be chargeable - so , of course, there was no mention of the price of the talk. We would not have driven to London if we had been informed of the price. Now the invoice has been followed by demanding emails and a call from a medical debtor agency - not answered by me . Since there was no prior information on the cost of the first visit, can anyone tell me what our legal rights are? An offer of £50 for goodwill has been rejected so far.

Thanx!

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hello peeps,

this is my first post - hello!

I have a question:

I drove my wife to a specialist doctor in London.

5 weeks after her consultation, we had a letter with an invoice for £290.

The initial consultation lasted about 25 minutes.

At no time was it explained to us that the initial consultation would be chargeable - so , of course, there was no mention of the price of the talk. We would not have driven to London if we had been informed of the price. Now the invoice has been followed by demanding emails and a call from a medical debtor agency - not answered by me . Since there was no prior information on the cost of the first visit, can anyone tell me what our legal rights are? An offer of £50 for goodwill has been rejected so far.

Thanx!

 

Where no cost was agreed in advance, if it went to court a court would enforce a "reasonable" fee.

 

You (no doubt) are looking at "consultation : 25 mins", and your offer of £50 equates to £120 /hour. You need to bear in mind that a Consultant (so, a fully trained specialist) who isn't considered pre-eminent in their field, and outside of London can easily charge £75-£110 per hour (or more in a 'shortage speciality where demand exceeds supply, or if only for 40 or less hours per week). A GP (again fully trained but a "specialist in general practice" rather than a "specialist in a hospital speciality" can also obtain £100+ / hour.

 

A "London Specialist" will also charge not only "per minute" for the consultation time. They will have costs (secretarial / admin support, equipment and consulting room costs) and will also state "you aren't just paying me for my time (per hour). You are also paying for the time I spent training (med school and training post medical school qualification)

 

There is also a certain prestige to seeing "a London Specialist", and a higher charge no doubt comes along with that.

 

I suggest you obtain quotes for an initial consultation from other London specialists in the same field, to compare these. You may have to factor in if the specialist is pre-eminent in their field, where they can command a premium.

 

Once you have researched these : you'll have a better idea of what a "reasonable" fee would be.

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Thread moved to appropriate forum.

 

Regards

 

Andy

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Section 15 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act basically says that where no price for services been agreed then a reasonable price will be implied.

 

You need to do some research and find out what the normal rate for a 25 minute consultation in that specialism would be.

 

This will give you an idea of the appropriate fee.

 

If you find that it is normal to have an initial consultation for free then you can use this as part of your evidence for saying that the interview should not have been subject to any charge at all.

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Experience here referring people privately to a clinic for a first appointment puts £290 at about right. Our local clinics in Wrexham / Chester tend to charge about £250 for a first consultation. An additional £40 for 'London' and the extra costs associated wouldn't surprise me.

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oww! does that mean I ought to pay, even tho' there was no information at all about paying or the actual price before the talk? incidentally, psychotherapists normally have free 1st appointments before any therapy happens..

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I take it that this was a private referral / self initiated encounter and not presumed to be an NHS funded meeting?

 

If so I'd say that there has to be a fair expectation of some sort of cost involved and the amount certainly doesn't seem excessive for a private consultation with a specialist/consultant grade clinician.

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Hello there.

 

I'm sorry to tell you this. I don't know of anyone who has been to see a private specialist and not had to pay for the consultation.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Experience here referring people privately to a clinic for a first appointment puts £290 at about right. Our local clinics in Wrexham / Chester tend to charge about £250 for a first consultation. An additional £40 for 'London' and the extra costs associated wouldn't surprise me.

 

Yeah. Youre right about wrexham and chester. The nuffield and bupa places do tend to charge around what you state. I can easily see london being more.

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oww! does that mean I ought to pay, even tho' there was no information at all about paying or the actual price before the talk? incidentally, psychotherapists normally have free 1st appointments before any therapy happens..

 

In a word or five; yes, you ought to pay. It's not so dissimilar to an employer offering a £50.00 goodwill gesture in place of a week's salary. As a strict comparison a private, ten minute GP appointment in a neighbouring surgery is charged at £85.00 with additional amounts for any other work / medication required. We're in a an area with a very large amount of tourists and if they're not entitled to NHS treatment then we and our neighbouring surgeries will charge for what would be otherwise routine work. Of course we'd treat without question in an emergency.

 

I'd imagine that in the case of a psychotherapist the initial meeting is as much about ensuring that there is the beginnings of a healthy therapeutic relationship and that the patient is suitable than it is about launching straight into treatment. As such a consultant surgeon is completely different, for the bulk of your interactions you're likely to be under anaesthesia and as such the initial meeting, examinations and diagnosis aren't a 'getting to know you' process but a definitive part of the treatment and are therefore almost certainly going to attract a charge.

 

Others have already said about not necessarily paying for the 25 minutes as such, you're paying for the knowledge, experience and ultimately culpability of a leader in their field. A consultant I worked with explained it as 'actually paying for me to take responsibility if I've got it wrong.'

My views are my own and are not representative of any organisation. if you've found my post helpful please click on the star below.

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In a word or five; yes, you ought to pay. It's not so dissimilar to an employer offering a £50.00 goodwill gesture in place of a week's salary. As a strict comparison a private, ten minute GP appointment in a neighbouring surgery is charged at £85.00 with additional amounts for any other work / medication required. We're in a an area with a very large amount of tourists and if they're not entitled to NHS treatment then we and our neighbouring surgeries will charge for what would be otherwise routine work. Of course we'd treat without question in an emergency.

 

I'd imagine that in the case of a psychotherapist the initial meeting is as much about ensuring that there is the beginnings of a healthy therapeutic relationship and that the patient is suitable than it is about launching straight into treatment. As such a consultant surgeon is completely different, for the bulk of your interactions you're likely to be under anaesthesia and as such the initial meeting, examinations and diagnosis aren't a 'getting to know you' process but a definitive part of the treatment and are therefore almost certainly going to attract a charge.

 

Others have already said about not necessarily paying for the 25 minutes as such, you're paying for the knowledge, experience and ultimately culpability of a leader in their field. A consultant I worked with explained it as 'actually paying for me to take responsibility if I've got it wrong.'

 

Spot on.

 

As for "Others have already said about not necessarily paying for the 25 minutes as such, you're paying for the knowledge, experience and ultimately culpability of a leader in their field. A consultant I worked with explained it as 'actually paying for me to take responsibility if I've got it wrong" : paying for their knowledge, skills, and experience not to get it wrong, (and also what they pay in Indemnity Insurance premiums, in case they do!)

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Spot on.

 

As for "Others have already said about not necessarily paying for the 25 minutes as such, you're paying for the knowledge, experience and ultimately culpability of a leader in their field. A consultant I worked with explained it as 'actually paying for me to take responsibility if I've got it wrong" : paying for their knowledge, skills, and experience not to get it wrong, (and also what they pay in Indemnity Insurance premiums, in case they do!)

 

Fair point, I'll edit my post for accuracy to say effectively you're paying for the knowledge AND their indemnity insurance premiums (seen some amazing quotes lately for GP's of close to £30k a year for those woking in out of hours...)

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