NHS waiting lists are at their highest level since records began and now concerns are growing that we could end up with a two-tier healthcare system here in the UK, as more people look to the private sector to accommodate their health needs.
With mass cancellations of routine operations all but inevitable this winter, those that have the capacity are either self-funding treatment or investing in private medical insurance. Unfortunately, those that don’t have little option but to continue to rely on the brilliant, but struggling NHS. The reality is that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is not just highlighting pre-existing health inequalities, but exacerbating them.
Speaking about the current situation, Tim Gardner, from the Health Foundation think tank, said: “Covid-19 has not impacted everyone equally, and there is clearly a risk that the backlog in routine hospital treatment is going to add to those inequalities if some people are able to get treatment faster because they’re able to pay.”
According to price comparison website Compare the Market, private health insurance sales over the past seven months have increased 40% year-on-year. Furthermore, the company believes that demand will continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels over the winter, as many people look to benefit from the additional reassurance private healthcare can afford.
Indeed, my colleague Claire Ginnelly recently cited two separate pieces of research that show how the Covid pandemic has increased interest in protection products. This isn’t really surprising when you consider that it is becoming more and more challenging to get prompt access to care in the NHS.
But while postponing routine procedures is an unfortunate outcome of the current situation, of more concern is the fact that cancer screenings are also becoming backlogged. As a result, LV= said it expects to see a jump in the number of Critical Illness cancer claims in 2021.
As winter approaches and seasonal flu starts to rear its head, a second wave of the virus would be potentially devastating for the NHS and the people who rely on it. New figures released by NHS England in November show that year-long waits for surgery are now at their highest level since 2008.
The figures reveal that in September, 139,545 patients in England had been waiting more than 12 months for surgery such as a hip and knee replacements or cataract removals. The NHS constitution states that everyone needing non-urgent treatment should get it within 18 weeks.
As we see NHS waiting lists reach record levels, there is a widely accepted view that the NHS may never fully recover from the impact caused by the Pandemic. More and more people are keen to understand what alternative options are available to protect their health and that of their families.
Healthcare Intermediaries provide a ‘go to’ option to help people create bespoke solutions for their requirements and within their budget. Call PCH now for a free no-obligation discussion.