Unlocking fast healthcare: how pain drives urgent access

New research released today reveals that pain is by far the biggest driver in the increasing trend of ‘self-pay’ private healthcare, where people pay for the treatment they need.

Almost half (48%) of people in Britain who have paid for treatment such as surgery in the last year in order to get faster access to treatment, declared this was because they were in pain.

Other reasons included not being able to do their jobs (15%), needing to be fit to care for someone else (6%), not being able to play sport (6%) and wanting to be fit for a major life event (7%).

With the NHS waiting lists now at a record high of almost 7.7 million people, this is expected to rise further.

The data

The nationally representative poll of 2,000 people over the age of 45, conducted by Savanta on behalf of Practice Plus Group, an independent healthcare provider, showed that 73% of Brits over the age of 45 have either paid, or would consider paying in the future, for the healthcare they need.

More than half (58%) of those polled in the survey cited the length of the NHS waiting lists as a factor – now at almost 7.7 million – and over half (56%) of people who have paid in the last 12 months are working either full or part time- with many of those working in manual roles and intermediate-level jobs.   

According to the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN): “Self-pay admissions grew rapidly immediately post the Covid lockdowns and have on average been around 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels for the past nearly two years….Some people will find it more economically viable to pay for these procedures themselves and be able to return to work sooner, rather than waiting. Those choosing to use self-pay may also have a pre-existing condition which rules out the use of private medical insurance.”

Jim Easton, CEO of Practice Plus Group, said: “This research confirms what we hear every day from those who call our contact centre; people on long waiting lists are in pain. They can’t live the active lifestyles they want and they’re anxious about the future and how their health and lifestyles might deteriorate further. The NHS is working hard to reduce waiting lists and we’re proud to play our part as a large NHS provider, but there are still over 400,000 people waiting for operations such as hip and knee replacements. It’s not surprising that people are choosing to just pay for what they need, to be seen faster and get back to their best sooner.”

“It’s not surprising that people are choosing to just pay for what they need, to be seen faster and get back to their best sooner.”

Jim Easton
CEO Practice Plus Group

Wellsoon from Practice Plus Group

Practice Plus Group has launched a new identity for its self-pay offering, called Wellsoon. It promises high quality surgery in four to six weeks, at typically 30% less expensive than other private hospitals.

Wellsoon, helping patients get well sooner

Illustration of man walking his dog with Wellsoon logo, click to find out more about Wellsoon private surgery

Self-pay patient stories

Jo’s story

Jo Bracey, 60, from Leicester, had suffered with an arthritic knee for many years and with the NHS waiting list in her area being two years for a knee replacement, she decided to take control and bought herself a new knee for her 60th birthday.

She said: “Life is short. I had stopped playing badminton and tennis and hadn’t been able to walk my dog as much as I had put on weight, so I needed to do something. I was taking paracetamol and ibuprofen every morning and night for many years. My doctor was horrified when I told him. He said I was putting myself at risk of stomach problems. 

Jo Bracey, one of our happy patients after having knee surgery with us

“Life is short…I needed to do something. I found Practice Plus Group Hospital, Barlborough and the reviews and prices were really good.”

Jo Bracey, knee surgery patient at Practice Plus Group, Barlborough

“I found the Practice Plus Group Hospital in Barlborough on an internet search and even though it was a long way from my home in Leicester, the reviews and price were really good. The knee replacement surgery was £4.5K cheaper than my local private hospital.” Read Jo’s full patient story.

John’s story

John Wilson 70, from Nuneaton, is a semi-retired, active man who developed a hernia after playing badminton. John said: “The pain was like a knife being stuck in and twisted and it was just getting worse. I went to see a consultant at my local NHS hospital, who confirmed I had a hernia but said I would need an MRI scan. I had already waited weeks and weeks to see him and the scan would take another 8-10 weeks. I waited and was then told the results would take another 6 weeks to report on, while the operation would still be months away.”

John had to stop working at the café he worked at, could no longer walk into town every day and had put weight on. He had also stopped playing his beloved ukulele and guitar due to the hernia pain.

John’s wife then decided she would start to look into paying for healthcare privately. “My wife called Practice Plus Group who told her about the hospital in Barlborough. Even though this is an hour’s drive from us, we knew it was the right choice. The call was so helpful and straightforward. Within a few weeks I was in and having the operation.”

John, smiling, our hernia patient

“My wife called Practice Plus Group who told her about the hospital in Barlborough….within a few weeks I was in and having the operation. It has been worth every penny.”

John Wilson, hernia patient at Practice Plus Group, Barlborough

Just a few weeks after enquiring with Practice Plus Group, John had his hernia operation and was soon back to walking four miles a day – and playing the ukulele! Read John’s full patient story.

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