This site is intended for health professionals only

GPs see rise in patients asking about private healthcare

More than a quarter of GPs have reported a rise in the number of patients asking about private healthcare, a survey has revealed.

The survey, commissioned by Spire Healthcare, the second largest private hospital provider in the UK, interviewed 1,000 GPs and 2,000 members of the public about their views on private healthcare.

It revealed that 59% of the public believe that those who can fund their own treatment privately should do so while only 30% of GPs feel those with private medical insurance should be encouraged to use it.

It also shows that over half of the public now feel it is becoming more popular for ‘normal’ people to seek private treatment and 62% would consider going private if NHS waiting times were too long.

Dr Jean-Jacques de Gorter, clinical services director at Spire Healthcare, said their survey showed public attitudes towards private healthcare were 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.’

Dr Una Coales, a GP in Stockwell, south London and GP chair of the Independent Doctors Federation, said GPs should be offering ‘non-judgemental’ medical advice and not persuade or dissuade patients from seeking to self pay or take out private health insurance.

She said: ‘We should be empowering and helping our patients to make independent healthy choices and decisions regarding the management of their healthcare, and actively intervene if we find that a patient is at risk of serious harm or death.’