A survey of GPs commissioned by Spire Healthcare reveals NHS patient waiting times & service restrictions are increasing

April 21, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Lengthening waiting times are already being experienced by GPs as well as restrictions on the availability of NHS services, including cancer care, reveals a new survey published today, commissioned by Spire Healthcare.

Weight loss surgery, fertility services, and orthopaedic treatments are worst hit by the pressure on the NHS, and almost a third (31%) of GPs will make more private referrals this year.

The survey of more than 500 UK General Practitioners in February and March 2011, examined GPs' attitudes to private healthcare alongside their experience of NHS waiting lists, restrictions, and demand for private treatment.

The majority of GPs said that their local Primary Care Trust had restricted services, with 77% seeing cuts in fertility services, 70% noting reductions in weight loss surgery and 40% experiencing NHS restrictions in ophthalmology services.

One in ten GPs has seen waiting times increase for oncology and 6% are experiencing NHS restrictions on cancer care. Almost a third (31 per cent) of GPs will make more private referrals this year.

- 39% of GPs are seeing an increase in patient enquiries about privately funded treatment
- 60% of GPs would privately refer if treatment isn't available on the NHS
- 43% of GPs have concerns over the care offered by the NHS
- Almost half (49%) of all GPs ask their patients if they have private medical insurance
- 61% of GPs would be more likely to refer privately if there was better access to health insurance
- 40% believe lack of take-up of insurance is the biggest barrier to referral

Dr Jean-Jacques de Gorter, Clinical Director of private hospital group Spire Healthcare, said: "We would expect an increase in referrals for weight loss surgery and fertility treatment to private hospitals as the NHS faces increasing budget constraints.

"We think that offering choice is important, and this is the route to getting the best possible treatment. It is good to see many more GPs recognising that patients who choose to be treated privately can alleviate some pressure on the NHS, with 92% of GPs expecting to refer patients privately in the year ahead."

"It is clear from the results that fewer than half of surveyed GPs are aware what private hospital groups such as Spire Healthcare currently offer in areas such as the provision for complex surgery."

Dr Paul Silverston, GP, Newmarket, said: "It is apparent that we are seeing waiting times for surgery and starting to increase and the recent changes in the NHS can only accelerate this trend. It is one of the roles of a good GP to guide patients towards what treatment is available, both within the NHS and the private sector and to discuss the relative merits of each."

About Spire Healthcare
Spire Healthcare is the second largest private hospital provider in the UK, with 37 hospitals and ten clinics nationwide. The company is built on a proud heritage of over 25 years experience of running successful private hospitals. Spire Healthcare offers a full range of integrated surgical, medical and diagnostic services, including cosmetic surgery, and treats over 930,000 patients every year.