The number of people using private healthcare is on the rise

The number of people using private healthcare is on the rise, finds new data.


A record 272,000 people paid for routine operations such as cataract removal and hip replacements, as well as going to private hospitals for diagnostic appointments. 


Up 262,000 from last year, it is believed the spike in private healthcare users comes as a result of increasingly long NHS waiting lists – which have only gotten worse since the start of the pandemic. 


Private hospitals also reached a record high in terms of the number of inpatients and day patients treated during 2022 which totalled a whopping 820,000 according the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN). 


A further 547,000 used a form of private medical insurance policy to recieve treatment which is the highest on record since 2019. 


Ian Gargan, PHIN’s chief executive, said “long NHS waiting lists and uncertainty around how long you’ll be waiting” were driving the surge in private healthcare. “For some people, paying for their own treatment is more cost-effective than not being able to work while they await a new knee or hip replacement, for instance.”


The top five most common procedures private hospitals carried out last year were cataract surgery (76,000), chemotherapy (66,000), an upper gastrointestinal diagnostic test (38,000), colonoscopy to test for bowel cancer (31,000) and a new hip (30,000).


Keep Our NHS Public said it was “shameful” that so many people have had no choice but to go private as a result of the government neglecting the NHS. 


Dr John Puntis, the group co-chair, added: “It should come as no surprise that when the government has run the NHS down to a state of near-collapse, more people are opting to go private.


“Private healthcare providers are making hay as those people who can afford health insurance or scrape the necessary funds together for treatment choose the independent sector. It is absolutely shameful that in 2023, in the sixth richest world economy, we can’t diagnose and treat life-threatening illnesses such as cancer in a timely fashion.” 


Overall the data highlights an urgent need for action when it comes to the NHS crisis. 


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