while the NHS suffers from record waiting lists, GPs have private health insurance


NHS waiting lists in England have reached record levels, with 7.47 million patients – about one in eight – waiting to start hospital treatment by the end of May (stock image)

A quarter of GPs have taken out private health insurance amid record hospital waiting lists, a survey found.

21 percent of GPs have personal private health insurance, while 4 percent finance it through their employer.

A further 15 percent do not have access to private healthcare insurance but are considering doing so, according to the survey of 860 GPs by GP magazine Pulse.

NHS waiting lists in England have reached record highs, with 7.47 million patients – about one in eight – waiting to start hospital treatment at the end of May.

A GP told Pulse: ‘I have and will continue to seek a private opinion for myself and for my family where the NHS waiting lists are too long.

NHS waiting lists in England have reached record levels, with 7.47 million patients – about one in eight – waiting to start hospital treatment by the end of May (stock image)

“Locally, routine mental health appointments are 18 months, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder assessments are up to four years, cardiology and dermatology appointments are one year.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to afford private care, but I’m aware that many can’t.” The GP added: ‘The NHS is on its knees. The waiting is not the fault of the hospital doctors – understaffing is a common theme in primary and secondary care.’

Dr. Shahid Dadabhoy, a GP partner in North East London, said: ‘I decided to access the private sector and get insurance because I’m not bulletproof and neither is my family.

‘As a GP I can’t be offline due to illness or waiting for NHS examinations. I need to be patched up and back to the ever thinning NHS front line as soon as possible.”

According to the Private Healthcare Information Network, 547,000 hospital and day admissions were paid for under private health insurance in the UK last year.

In the fourth quarter of the year, insurance-paid procedures hit their highest level since the pandemic, with more hip and knee replacements than in 2019.

Responding to the Pulse survey, a GP described being driven to take out private health insurance after their son developed glue ear, in which the middle part of the ear canal fills with fluid.

The doctor said: ‘The waiting time on the NHS was three months for an initial appointment, then a further nine months for surgery.

“An entire year for a two-year-old to miss out on all the social development that comes with hearing.

‘I paid privately for the day treatment, which came to almost £5,000, and I took out health insurance the following day.

‘I no longer trust the NHS to diagnose or treat cancer in a timely manner and I see private health insurance as an essential cost item.’

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Eliminating waiting lists is one of the government’s top five priorities and we are making progress, including virtually eliminating 18-month waiting times and treating record numbers per day.”