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Admissions to private hospitals at record level

The number of patients admitted to private hospitals reached the highest level since records began for both private medical insurance and self pay patients last year.

The number of patients admitted to private hospitals reached record levels last year for both private medical insurance and self pay admissions, according to new data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN).

There were nearly 900,000 admissions to private hospitals in the UK in 2023. This is more than any previous year and 7% higher than 2022, which was also a record year for private hospital admissions.

The largest peak came in the final three months of 2023 when 161,000 private hospital admissions were funded this way. Insured admissions were 7% higher in 2023 than in 2019.

The biggest rises for Insured admissions in England came in the East Midlands (14%) and London (12%). The largest rises by volume were in London (23,800) and the South East (8,600) followed by the East of England (6,700).

Self-pay admissions – people paying for their own treatment rather than using insurance – were also at their highest ever level in 2023, peaking in the first three months of the year (73,000 admissions) before reducing slightly but staying well above (39%) pre-pandemic levels.

Private hospitals rise shows importance people place on their health

PHIN, an independent, not-for-profit, government mandated organisation collected data from the more than 600 private hospitals across the UK and also from over 10,000 consultants.

The biggest increases by volume in admissions in the top 10 procedures were for ‘Diagnostic upper GI endoscopies’. These increased by 3,595 (9%). The next biggest volume increase was in ‘Diagnostic colonoscopy – bowel’ at 2,955 (9%).

The biggest decrease was in cataract surgery which was -5,615 (7%).  Therapeutics – chemotherapy were also down (5.5%).

Dr Ian Gargan, PHIN’s Chief Executive, added: “These record figures show the important role the private sector plays in the nation’s health, something acknowledged by the major political parties. With NHS waiting lists at record levels, a growing number of people are looking for alternatives and choosing to use the private sector rather than risk prolonged waits and potentially seeing their health deteriorate.

“The number of people using private medical insurance, or opting to ‘self-pay’ for their procedure, has increased despite the difficult economic conditions over the past few years, demonstrating the importance people place on their health.

“The UK’s private sector already partners with the NHS, and private hospitals tell us that they have the capacity to help further and bring down the waiting lists and stop people suffering unnecessarily.”

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