NHS shortcomings driving patients to private healthcare

A major new report highlights the rapid growth in the self-pay private healthcare care market.

According to the report, this is being driven by pressure on NHS funding and lengthening waiting lists, and the wide variety of prices available to patients who are prepared to “shop around” for private treatment.

The report (which was compiled through an online survey, interviews with leading figures in the UK private healthcare market and the analysis of 6,500 prices for private operations, treatment and scans) was produced by Intuition Communication, publishers of Private Healthcare UK, the country’s leading web portal for private healthcare.

The main findings of the report include:

• Providers and commentators report annual growth of 15% to 25% in the number of patients without health insurance who are using savings or loan finance to fund private operations.

• The factors driving this growth are:

o Lengthening NHS waiting times which are prompting more patients to consider the private option;

o Demand management initiatives by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which are reducing access to NHS care;

o The increasing cost of private medical insurance which is encouraging older people to fund private healthcare from savings.

o Marketing initiatives and financing schemes from the major providers.

 • Significant price variations exist across the UK. Self-pay patients may benefit significantly by shopping around. The range of prices provided for some procedures varied by more than 100% from the lowest to the highest.

Keith Pollard, CEO of Intuition Communication, said: “There’s no doubt that NHS waiting lists are at the heart of this growth in self-pay. However, the Competition and Market Authority’s investigation into the private healthcare sector is stimulating a new era of price transparency, increased price competition and greater availability of data for patients to compare what’s on offer from the private healthcare providers. This can only be good news for patients.”


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