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Waiting for GP referrals? Direct access services could help

For years I had wanted to hike the Inca Trail, see the sun rise over Machu Picchu and head down into the depths of the Amazon (the river, not the retail giant). Then a few years ago, it was all booked and I was heading off to Peru.

Six weeks before I was due to leave, I walked out of the gym, stepped up on a curb and went over on my ankle. I tore ligaments and chipped off some bone. So what did that mean for my trip? How long was I going to have to wait until I could have treatment for my injury? And what about work if I couldn’t drive? In fact, I didn’t need to worry thanks to the direct access service I was able to use through my Bupa private medical insurance.

I phoned the claims line the day after it happened and booked in for a triage session at lunchtime. I was called back at the time agreed and had a short assessment over the phone. The advisor referred me for six sessions of physiotherapy, the first of which happened the very next day, within 36 hours of my injury occurring. I didn’t miss a day of work, was able to drive in a couple of days and six weeks later, I was hiking in the hills of Peru.

Getting help, treatment and support as early as possible is absolutely key with any medical condition, from an injury to something more serious like cancer. The earlier you get help, the better the prognosis and outcome. I didn’t really understand why people wouldn’t seek help as soon as they were worried about something, so I asked and the thing I heard most was ‘I don’t want to waste anyone’s time’. Trust me – you’re not. Any medical professional will tell you they would rather spend some time and give you the news that everything is ok, rather than you wait and then the news they might have to deliver is bad.

Direct access services mean you can call and speak to a specialist team who can refer you on if necessary thereby ensuring you have any checks as quickly as possible. And if you don’t need onward referral, you have the peace of mind that things are ok. Once you have that peace of mind, you can start thinking about other important things – such as ‘where shall I go on my next adventure’...

For more information on the ECIS private medical insurance scheme, please visit