We are moving from Switzerland to UK in a couple of months and I'm worried about adjusting to the nhs way of doing things. We would like to have:

  • Direct access to a (specific) gynecologist for my wife
  • Direct access to a (specific) pediatrician for my 1 month old baby

Is this possible through the nhs or do I always have to visit a GP and he decides whether we are referred? Would a private insurance cover this? I have found that they have very little information on their websites.

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    In my experience private healthcare policies require an initial referral from your gp. Also the UK system is very GP focused, unless referred on for a specific reason, your child would normally see a GP, not a pediatrician Jun 5, 2016 at 8:51
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    It's not only a matter of insurance but of the whole organisation of the healthcare system (and the NHS is not primarily an insurer, it also provides care). For example, in many countries women are not expected to visit a gynecologist once a year like they are in France or Germany (and, I surmise, in Switzerland?).
    – Relaxed
    Jun 5, 2016 at 10:38
  • So, even if I have a private insure, I still have to go through the NHS GP to get a referral? We have lived in 3 countries in the past decade and in all of them the pediatrician (checkup, vaccines, and illnesses) and gynecologist (checkup) did not need a GP referral.
    – electrique
    Jun 5, 2016 at 13:40
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    @electrique Typically, in a GP-based system, the GP does all the routine medical care for any patient, man, woman, or child. You would not need a referral for a child's checkup, vaccines, and minor illnesses or a woman's gynecological checkup because the GP would provide all that. Jun 5, 2016 at 15:16
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    @electrique the GP will keep track of the child's health (and everyone else's); that's what a GP does.
    – phoog
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


The UK health system is very GP based (and even on top of that nurse based). Most private insurance is "top up" insurance and adds features to the standard NHS care. In London, and some other cities, you can get insurance that covers more or less anything. That said, you need to weigh the costs and benefits carefully. You may be better off paying out of pocket for regular visits to the gynecologist and pediatrician than using insurance.

If you are going to be in the UK for a while, you may want to work on getting used to the way they do things. It is easier said than done, but in the long run probably worth it.

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