Survey demonstrates increased public interest in private healthcare
- 30% of GPs think that appropriate patients should be encouraged to seek private care -
- However, 40% of GPs will not ask patients if they have private medical insurance -
22 November 2011, London: Survey results released today have revealed that more than one in four GPs (28%) have seen a rise in the number of patients asking about private healthcare or self pay in the last six months, demonstrating that patients are increasingly considering treatment options other than the NHS, even if this means paying for the treatment themselves. This figure is reinforced by the findings of a recent survey1 investigating public opinion about payment for treatment which found that 57% of the public surveyed believe it is becoming more popular for “normal” people to seek private treatment.
The GP survey, commissioned by Spire Healthcare and carried out by ComRes, suggests that despite an increasing number of GPs recommending that patients who require services restricted by the NHS seek private care, a significant gap still exists between the attitude of the public and GPs over the provision of treatment and access to private healthcare. 59% of the public surveyed believe that people who are able to fund their own treatment privately should do so to relieve the burden on the NHS; however, 40% of GPs surveyed stated that they would not ask patients if they have private medical insurance.
The survey noted that only 30% of GPs think that patients who have private medical insurance, or can afford to pay, should be encouraged to pay for their own treatment. However, this figure is increasing in the light of growing NHS waiting lists and cutbacks on NHS funded treatments. Many doctors are nevertheless still reluctant to discuss alternative funding options with their patients. 62% of people would consider going private if NHS waiting times were too long, but only 13% of GPs surveyed always discuss the option to be treated privately.
Dr Jean-Jacques de Gorter, Clinical Services Director at Spire Healthcare, commented:
“The NHS is under increasing pressure to do more with less and this is leading to not only restrictions in access to treatments, but also to longer waits. It is only fair for patients to be made aware of all the options available to them. The results of this survey highlights to me that public attitudes towards private healthcare are changing – people are beginning to realise that choosing to be treated privately is not only an option that is open to them, but also that it helps relieve the burden on the NHS. We hope this trend will be reflected in the advice provided by GPs to patients when considering both NHS and private options that may best meet the needs the needs of their patients.”
ComRes interviewed 1001 GPs in the UK online between 19th and 25th October 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of GPs in the UK. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.