More people than ever are choosing a private hospital for treatment over a public hospital, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic that, according to a high number of private healthcare providers, has seen public health centres overwhelmed and appointments and procedures postponed.
People are now also more conscious of their health following the devastating global health emergency, the providers say, and are unwilling to put off examinations and procedures they should be having because public hospitals are dealing with too many COVID-19 patients.
The public health system in Britain, for example, the National Health Service, has historically had long wait times for most procedures and operations — stretching to months if not over a year. For example, the average waiting time to see a specialist at one of its hospitals around the UK is meant to be 18 weeks for non-urgent cases, but it’s often more. The BMJ reports that, based on official figures, more than 83,000 people in England were on a waiting list for more than 12 months, reaching record highs.
Rising Demand at Private Hospitals
The British capital is known as a centre of medical excellence. People from all over the UK and the world travel to London to have private medical procedures, even if they have to pay a lot more for them compared to those carried out at free or low-fee public hospitals. One private hospital group in London has reported a doubling of the number of patients coming through its doors in recent months as the pandemic raged and the NHS was unable to carry out routine operations and procedures.
With an enormous backlog of cases at NHS hospitals, which may take years to clear, private hospitals may likely continue to benefit with higher patient numbers for some time. Fees at private hospitals can cost thousands of pounds for minor procedures, such as cataract surgery, and run into the tens of thousands for more major surgery, like a hip or knee replacement.
And not all private hospitals have the same fees, according to recent research, because a number of factors determine how much any one private medical centre might charge. These include the location of the hospital, with London the most expensive, due to higher rents and staff costs; the type of medical equipment used, as private hospitals often invest more in this area and pass it on in costs; medicines, because private hospitals may buy the latest, and more expensive, drugs; and individual consultant fees.
What Are the Real Benefits of Private Healthcare?
Having necessary procedures and operations done immediately, so that a condition or disease doesn’t get worse, is an obvious main attraction of using private doctors in London and elsewhere around the UK and other countries. It eliminates the many months otherwise spent waiting and worrying and perhaps in pain and discomfort too.
Care and attention are also big advantages of a private hospital, because with fewer patients than public hospitals, private nurses and doctors can spend more time with their patients. They can answer patients’ questions in detail and reassure them instead of quickly ushering them out the door. And the medical professionals at private hospitals are often the best in their field, attracted by higher salaries and better working conditions.
When you also consider the more luxurious surroundings in a private hospital — often comparable to a hotel — and a swift restoration of health, it’s no wonder so many people are now reconsidering their traditional allegiances to public health systems and going private for their healthcare needs.