Are NHS wait times pushing people into private healthcare?

Hospital beds in a corridor

Unprecedented waiting times in the NHS could be forcing people to pay thousands for medical care and common procedures.

According to figures from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) there has been a 39% increase in ‘self-pay’ procedures in the last 3 months of 2021 when compared to the same period before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figures also showed a 29% increase in self-funded procedures during 2021, when compared with 2019.

The news comes at a time when waiting times in the NHS are at unprecedented levels, with over 6 million people currently waiting for treatment. This has risen from around 4 million people, before the pandemic.

A combination of staff levels and the impacts of COVID-19 are being cited as the main reasons.

NHS waiting times

In some of the latest data released by the NHS, trusts across the country were struggling to meet targets in regard to waiting times.

For example, just 61.47% of providers in England were providing cancer treatment, within the 62-day timeframe set out by the NHS.

Further analysis by Blackwater Law revealed that just 31.36% of patients at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust were receiving treatment for cancer within the current 62-day waiting time during May 2022.

The figure is significantly below the current NHS target of 85% and a long way behind the NHS average of 62.37% for May. It means they are one of the lowest performing trusts in the country.

There are multiple cancer waiting time targets set by the NHS in England, one of which is a 62-day waiting time. This means that patients should wait no more than 62 days from the initial urgent GP referral for suspected cancer through to the first definitive treatment for cancer.

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Impact of delayed treatment

The impact on patients of these waiting times can be huge. According to the British Medical Journal, a delay of up to 12 weeks for treatment for breast cancer, for example, could increase the likelihood of death by over 25%. Delayed diagnosis of other illnesses such as a heart condition, could also lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Due to the fact that delayed treatment can have such a detrimental effect, it is entirely possible that a number of patients are deciding to use the private sector, rather than risk their health.

If you have suffered from delayed treatment or diagnosis, you could be entitled to make a compensation claim.

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