Doctors could help save the NHS over £1billion a year if they encouraged patients to use their medical insurance policy, according to a report from Laing and Buisson.
The report, based on 2011 government statistics for England, revealed that the NHS spends up to £609 million a year to pay for emergency medical hospital treatment for people with private medical cover.
It added that an estimated 254,500 planned operations for patients with private cover were undertaken on the NHS during the year, costing around £359 million.
HCA International, the company who commissioned the report, believes that GPs should ask patients about to undergo pre-planned operations if they had private health insurance to ease the strain on the NHS.
However, the company thinks that many GPs do not suggest the idea to patients because they feel it would be ‘disloyal’ to do so. Keith Biddlestone, HCA International’s group commercial director, said: “Some people in the NHS feel it is disloyal to suggest people use their private medical insurance.
“But if I was chief executive of the NHS I would kick off a campaign for staff to encourage patients to do so, to reduce some of the strain.”
The report also suggests that hospital staff could ask those admitted as emergencies if they wanted to switch to the private patient wards.
Dr Natalie-Jane MacDonald, managing director of Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said: “We want our members to get value from their PMI and we encourage them to use their policies – for example, we don’t have steep no-claims discounts which act as a major disincentive to making claims.
“And we have seen an increasing tendency for people taking out policies and using them – in contrast to older generations, who were more likely to see it as a ‘rainy day’ option.”
Dr Richard Theo, managing director of ActiveQuote Health, said: “A lot of people are under the impression that the NHS and the private medical insurance industry are working in competition with each other.
“On the contrary, the NHS and the PMI sector increasingly work hand in hand to serve the UK’s health needs. When choosing a health insurance policy you should make sure it complements the service you already receive from the NHS.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012