Frustration driving more and more patients to private healthcare

Frustration with NHS driving more patients to theatres in private hospitals

Latest figures from NHS England show that the number of people in England waiting for routine treatment has now reached a record 6.8 million and patients are being encouraged to shop around in order to avoid the queues. Against this backdrop millions of patients are turning to private healthcare to get the treatment that they need. Now, a new study carried out by the charity Engage Britain has explored people's experiences of and reasons for using private healthcare.

10% of adults have turned to the private sector

The study, which polled 2,075 adults in the UK, revealed that 10% of adults in the UK have turned to the private sector or independent healthcare in the last 12 months. Of these, almost two-thirds (63%) did so because they faced long delays or could not get treatment on the NHS.

Difficulties in getting referrals

The survey further reveals that the most common stated concern with the service that patients receive from the NHS is cancelled or postponed appointments (28%), with many others respondents saying they are not kept updated, have problems with referrals or see mistakes in letters and emails.

Some bigger complaints are about communication breakdowns and disruption, with almost half (47%) of NHS patients experiencing these issues. Miriam Levin, Engage Britain’s Healthcare Director, commentating on the survey results says,

“Only the people who live through these daily frustrations can tell us how things really need to change. The government needs a fresh approach to making our NHS fit for purpose – by listening to what patients and staff have to say, then putting their experience at the heart of delivering services.” 

NHS patients also have the right to choose their treatment provider

As reported previously by Total Health, NHS patients can choose to receive their treatment in an independent provider and new data in the report shows that almost 90% of people in England live within a 30 minute drive of an independent provider, with people living in the most deprived areas of England just as likely to live near an independent provider as the general population.

the Patients Association (PA) has found that across England, if patients are prepared to travel 13.2 miles, or around 30 minutes by car it is possible to cut months off the waiting times.

However, despite patients having a legal right to choose which provider delivers their care (including in an independent provider who contract with the NHS), almost half of the public are unaware of these rights.

IHPN and the PA say that the Government and NHS need to take action to boost the public’s understanding of their legal choices over where to receive treatment. A short journey could considerably cut the waiting times. In the Midlands, for example, a patient waiting for treatment in a hospital with high average waiting times for the region would only need to travel around 11 miles to a hospital with lower waiting times and see their average waiting time go from 26.7 weeks down to 8.9 weeks – a saving of almost 18 weeks.

The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
An organ with the ability to make and secrete certain fluids. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary