GPs believe the number of patients asking about paying privately for operations has increased in the last year, as the NHS continues to budget cut.
A poll carried out by ComRes for BMI Healthcare, reported in the Daily Telegraph, found that 70 per cent of GPs are unable to refer a patient for further treatment on the NHS at least once a month because they do not qualify under strict local criteria.
According to the newspaper, primary care trusts have been restricting access to treatments like cataract removals, hernia operations and hip and knee replacements by raising the threshold of how ill a patient has to be.
Consequently, 35 per cent of questioned GPs now believe that the proportion of patients who asked about paying for private treatment had increased compared to a year ago. Only six per cent thought the proportion had decreased.
66 per cent of GPs thought the increased interest in self-pay healthcare was due to the lack of availability of treatments on the NHS, and 56 per cent thought it was because NHS waiting times had increased. Dr Mark Ferreira, medical development director of BMI Healthcare, said:
“As this survey shows, patients are being forced to consider how they will be treated and how they will pay for their healthcare.”
Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, managing director of Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said the company was seeing increased demand for its new self-payment product called Bupa On Demand. This offers private treatment packages at a fixed price for people without health insurance or who are excluded from certain treatments on their current plan.
Cataract surgery is being offered by Bupa On Demand for £2,505 per eye, hysterectomies for £5,300 and hip replacements for £10,505.
Another option for people wanting access to private treatment who cannot afford to meet these one-off costs is to take out a health insurance policy. This could cover you for quick referrals and treatment in a private hospital for a variety of conditions, at a more affordable monthly premium.
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