Private healthcare and self-pay programmes are growing, according to a report recently published by market analysis provider, Key Note.
Up to 35 per cent of GPs have noticed an increasing amount of patients asking about self-pay options for operations like cataract removal, hernia operations and hip and knee replacements.
According to Key Note’s report, the UK’s private healthcare market grew by 3.2 per cent in 2011. Long-term care for elderly and physically disabled patients dominated the market and is primarily responsible for the sector’s expansion.
From 2007 to 2011, the long-term care industry grew by 15 per cent, while public sector spending fell 9.4 per cent. In the same time frame, the overall private healthcare sector grew 20.5 per cent.
Acute care accounted for two per cent of growth in 2011. Psychiatric care increased 4.7 per cent in the same year, and private medical insurance increased 1.9 per cent. Also in 2011, the primary care sector rose by 3.2 per cent.
The Financial Times online reported Spire Healthcare, a private healthcare provider, had seen revenues increase 4.8 per cent in 2011.
Outlook remains positive for the private healthcare sector. Over the next four year period, between 2012 to 2016, the market is expected to show an average annual increase of five per cent.
NHS reform, rationing of drugs, and longer waiting times for treatment may be behind private healthcare’s growth. Primary care trusts may also be responsible, as they have been increasingly restricting access to procedures by raising the threshold of how disabled or sick a patient must be before they qualify for treatment.
More than half of patients cited long NHS waiting times as the primary reason why they were considering self-pay. Meanwhile, 66 per cent of GPs believe self-pay programmes are becoming more popular as a result of decreased availability of treatments through the NHS.
Nearly a quarter of all GPs said they were more likely to recommend private healthcare options and self-pay treatment to their patients because of problems associated with NHS reform.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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