One in six people are prepared to pay for private healthcare instead of waiting for NHS, finds survey

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8th March 2022 16:39 - Health

One in six people are prepared to pay for private healthcare instead of waiting for NHS: A survey has found that a growing number of people in the UK are opting to pay for private medical care, with the accompanying report (State of Health and Care 2022) suggesting that this has been amplified by Covid-19 and declining access to NHS care. 

The survey of 3,466 UK adults by the IPPR thinktank found that one in six (17%) respondents would be prepared to pay to go private if they had to wait more than 18 weeks to start treatment after being referred by their GP. Eighteen weeks is the maximum amount of time people entitled to NHS care are supposed to have to wait before their treatment begins. The survey also found that for 59% of respondents in this situation, private healthcare would not be an option, due to how much it costs.

One in 10 respondents said that in these circumstances, they would wait for the NHS to offer them treatment as they do not approve of a private system (10%), while 14% said they 'did not know'.

The report highlights the growing number of Britons paying for their own hospital treatment could result in a 'two-tier' health system which could have the effect of undermining the NHS.

The survey was conducted in November 2021 by YouGov, also finding that almost a third of respondents (the equivalent of 16 million people) had experienced difficulties accessing healthcare during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the people who had struggled to access healthcare, the polling found that a 12% made the decision to go private, while a quarter (26%) had considered doing the same but did not go on to do so. Almost six in 10 said that they did not consider going private during the pandemic (59%), whilst 3% said they 'did not know'.

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