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Private maternity care inquiries up

As the Duchess of Cambridge prepares to give birth at the exclusive Lindo Wing it has emerged that inquiries about private maternity healthcare have tripled in the past year.

While most do not have the finances to stump up the estimated £12,000 that the royal birth will cost, r esearch by private healthcare search engine found a 216% rise in people looking into having a private consultation, at a cost of £144 a session.

It also found that inquiries about private fertility clinics have almost doubled (93%) in the past 12 months, with women paying up to £295 for an appointment.

Queries about UK private IVF treatments have soared by 167%, while there has also been a rise in private IVF procedures abroad, with overseas inquiries increasing by 64% in one year.

Alternative treatments are also on the rise, with inquiries into fertility acupuncture private clinics going up by two-thirds (65%).

The search engine said that with p rivate IVF costing £2,155 per round in the UK, it is easy to see why people are shopping around.

The most popular overseas locations for private patients from the UK are the Czech Republic, Spain and Greece. It said IVF treatment in the Czech Republic in particular, which has seen the highest volume of inquiries in the past year, will typically cost £742 per session - nearly a third of the cost as the same treatment at home.

Kate is due to check in to the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington any day now, where she will have her second child delivered with every comfort imaginable having received the best medical attention money can buy throughout her pregnancy.

She will get a 10% loyalty discount after giving birth to Prince George there , but the price will still come in at around £ 12,000 for a one-night stay.

Prices have increased since George was delivered there two years ago and a suite of two rooms now costs £6,570 for a one-night stay with normal delivery - £ 5,913 with Kate's 10% off - plus consultant fees of around £6,000.

Last time, Kate stayed for just one night and is likely to do the same this time. She could even be back home earlier if the birth goes to plan. If she wishes to stay for an additional night, it will cost her an extra £2,300.

Dr Donald Gibb, founder of the Birth Company, based in London's Harley Street, said private maternity care offers parents more convenience and the chance to have more detailed discussions with doctors, which hard-pressed NHS staff might not have time for.

He said there have also been a number of advancements in private maternity care in the last year alone, such as non-invasive pre-natal testing for Down's Syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.

"Although private maternity care is a considerable cost, typically around £20,000, these women are buying better access to senior medical opinion," he said.

"With private care, you are a person not a number, and unfortunately the NHS is over-run with numbers.

"Women often look for private scans and appointments because they want a higher level of convenience, with longer opening hours and Saturday appointments to fit busy schedules."

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