Crippling NHS waiting lists and monumental staffing issues, alongside the added pressures brought upon us amidst the war in Ukraine, have resulted in the near collapse of our National Health Service as we know it. This collapse has resulted in prolonged waiting times for routine appointments, driving many people – one in ten in the UK – to pay for an appointment with a general practitioner (GP) out of their own pocket. But are these costs all that bad?

The catalyst

After a significant contraction in 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK saw a rise in the number of people opting for private healthcare. This growth can be attributed to two major factors that we predict will continue to drive the demand for private healthcare unless significant change can be made.

  1. 1)  We’re becoming more health aware – thanks to the rise in social media and ‘health influencers’, we’re becoming more health aware. Health-conscious people may be more inclined to opt for private health for routine check-ups as opposed to resorting to visiting the GP only when an issue has become apparent.
  2. 2)  NHS isn’t coping – insufficient workforce, lack of beds, and a pandemic that accounted for more hospitalisations than we could have ever imagined have contributed to significantly longer NHS waiting times and more frustrated patients.

 

A lifeline for the NHS

Misconceptions surrounding private healthcare being a finance-driven industry have undoubtedly affected the sector in some way. However, recent times have shown that private health not only provides the general public with rapid access to routine healthcare but also gives the NHS tremendous relief.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors working for the NHS are delighted upon hearing their patients ask for private referrals. This is because:

1) Their problem will be attended to quickly – millions of NHS patients have had to wait upwards of 6 weeks or more for an appointment. Even more worryingly is that 20% of people surveyed said they had been on an NHS waiting list for over a year.

2) It reduces the burden on the NHS – by utilising private healthcare, patients are reducing the burden on the NHS, allowing more time and resources to be used for more critical cases.

Over the past year, deals have been struck between the NHS and the private sector to reduce the workload on NHS staff. Private doctors are trained to the exact same standard as our NHS heroes – mostly because the majority of UK private doctors have moved sector from the NHS. Private practices are also governed by the same regulatory bodies, so patients can check the standard of care they’re due to receive before they book.

Patients opting to use private GP services will allow more time to be allocated by the NHS to those who are in urgent need, thereby saving more lives and reducing overall pressures.

 

Convenience to the public

The NHS crisis has resulted in the cancellation of essential investigations and elective surgeries, as well as making specialist referrals hard to come by.

A private GP practice can alleviate the inconveniences felt by the public by offering a degree of appointment flexibility and speed of service that can’t be matched by the NHS. In addition, patients who see private GPs can do so, usually, at a time and date suited to them, and for appointment durations that surpass the shockingly fast appointment times we have today. This means that we have more time to really listen to our patient’s concerns and make effective treatment plans, all whilst getting to know our patients on a more personal level.

 

An incentive for the workforce

Private practices such as Prestige Private Health partner with corporate practices to encourage a healthy workforce. What was once deemed as a major benefit in countries such as the US, has become a possibility here in the UK – the provision of group health coverage, which almost 1 in 5 employers are considering offering their staff this year.

Given the inability to pick and choose your own GP appointments, many workers are forced to take leave out of work hours just to go see the doctor, no matter how minor their condition may be. Working with a workplace-centred private GP practice can give company employees access to in-house NHS-standard GPs who not only attend to matters in as quick a time as possible but do so whilst keeping up to speed with deadlines and other crucial company commitments.

Likewise, in-house healthcare can be significant for an employee, particularly if the employee or members of their family suffer from conditions that warrant frequent GP visits which would otherwise be relatively difficult to arrange. Let’s not forget that amidst the cost-of-living crisis that has resulted in record-breaking inflation that has yet to be matched by appropriate wage growth, people are less willing to fork out what little disposable income they may have on private healthcare – a service which should be free and readily accessible.

 

Bridging the gap

Minor ailment attendances in general practice and emergency departments place a significant burden on our country’s healthcare resources. Private medical companies that have adapted to the digital era have found great success in providing the public with alternative means of communicating with their doctor, through both telephone, video, and even direct messaging services. Whilst this move to telehealth has been beneficial in reducing GP waiting times and giving people the level of convenience that matches today’s pace of life, some people are still being referred to NHS GPs for minor ailments that require confirmation through in-person assessments.

Prestige Private Health plugs this unnecessary gap. Our private services entitle employees to confidential face-to-face appointments that can be carried out in a private office room. This means that we can carry out any necessary minor diagnostic procedures such as an ear or eye test there and then, instead of referring our patient to another establishment which may take weeks to respond.

 

It’s time to adapt to change

Though private healthcare has previously been frowned upon, it’s time we look at these services from another light – one that doesn’t bite its thumb at the thought of NHS doctors migrating sector for financial reasons, but one that sees the service as a saving grace for what we’d all agree is the best healthcare system in the world.

With all sectors of the healthcare industry holding strikes in the upcoming months, the search for efficient private healthcare becomes more necessary than ever, particularly for those who need rapid access to quality care. Corporate companies can take the first step to combat the pressures felt by both the public and the health service, and opt to partner with Prestige Private Health today.