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Waiting times driving patients from NHS, nine-in-10 private staff say

Waiting times driving patients from NHS, nine-in-10 private staff say
By Jess Hacker
25 April 2022

Nearly nine-in-10 private acute healthcare staff cite growing NHS waiting times as the most important factor driving patients to private healthcare services.

According to a survey of around 125 clinical and non-clinical staff, 89.5% said they expected NHS waiting times to be the most significant factor affecting the self-pay market over the next three years.

A similar number (84.3%) cited access to NHS services as one of the most important factors, with nearly three quarters (71.5%) suggesting that confidence in the quality of NHS services would impact the market.

The report – led by private health sector analysts LaingBuisson – said that their research indicated that growth in the self-pay market observed over the last few years would continue over the next three to five years ‘at least’.

But it also stated: ‘We inject a note of caution however in that while there was significant pent-up demand at the end of 2020, the high volumes of new self-pay activity that might have been expected have not yet fully materialised.

‘What is clear is that there is a significant growth in demand for diagnostics and outpatient consulting and treatment which does seem to have been sustained as we move into 2022.’

Currently, the waiting list for NHS elective care topped 6.2 million people, with nearly 300,000 patients were waiting more than 52 weeks, and around 23,200 patients waiting more than 104 weeks.

This comes as reports suggest the NHS is on course to meet its target to ensure no patients wait longer than two years: one of several milestones set out in February’s Elective Recovery Plan.

According to the Express, unpublished data indicates that 33 hospital trusts of 140 have eliminated 104-week waits.

Sir James Mackey, the NHS England and NHS Improvement elective recovery adviser, said: ‘Staff have successfully begun to reduce the longest waits for care, which ultimately means people who have been in need for longest, are now getting the care they need.’

The elective recovery plan was widely criticised when it was first published for lacking a workforce plan.

Earlier this year, health secretary Sajid Javid warned the backlog for care likely will not begin to fall until March 2022.

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