Britons pay for their own health care as waiting lists spiral

26 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views
Britons pay for their own health care as waiting lists spiral

eBusiness Weekly

British patients paying for their own treatments reached a record high last year, as the country’s National Health Service buckles under long waiting lists and pent-up demand in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.

Total in-patient admissions using self-pay rose to 272 000 last year, an increase of 37 percent from pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest market update from the Private Healthcare Information Network. Cataract surgeries, hip replacements and knee replacements are the most popular procedures that patients are electing to pay for themselves.

More than 7 million people are waiting for treatment in England as the country struggles to treat a growing and aging population.

A series of walkouts by health-care workers demanding better pay since mid-December have put increasing pressure on the state-run NHS amid budget constraints.

“People are increasingly exercising their right to choice in their healthcare in the face of record waiting lists,” said Ian Gargan, chief executive officer of the Private Healthcare Information Network. “The growth in private health care has come despite the cost-of-living crisis hitting in 2022.

‘‘It shows how important people’s health is to them and that they will prioritise it over other spending.”

The growth in patients prepared to shell out for medical care rose in all regions of the UK in 2022 compared with pre-pandemic levels, showing how deep a crisis the NHS faces. Private hospital operator Spire Healthcare Group Plc previously disclosed that self-pay accounted for almost 30 percent of the company’s revenue last year, up from less than 20 percent in 2019.

Procedures paid for by private medical insurance also reached their highest rate since the pandemic in the fourth quarter of last year, with London and the South East region continuing to have the greatest levels of insured admissions. — Bloomberg


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