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Private healthcare boom adds to fears of two-tier system in UK

Growing numbers of Britons are paying for private medical treatment in a shift that could undermine the NHS and create a “two-tier” health system, a report has warned.

Declining access to and quality of NHS care, both worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, have begun to “supercharge” the trend, with one in six people prepared to go private instead of waiting.

That is among the findings of a report by the left-leaning IPPR thinktank, which warns that in future getting fast, high-quality care on the NHS could become as difficult as the situation that already exists in regards to state-funded dental treatment, which has become a postcode lottery.

“People are not opting out of the NHS because they have stopped believing in it as the best and fairest model of healthcare,” said Chris Thomas, the IPPR’s principal research fellow and co-author of the report.

“Rather, those who can afford it are being forced to go private by the consequences of austerity and the pandemic on NHS access and quality, and those without the funds are left to ‘put up or shut up’.”

The report says that unless the NHS starts performing better “people who can and are willing to do so will supplement their entitlement to NHS care with private healthcare products”.

“With NHS waiting lists now at record levels, it is not surprising that more patients across the country are looking at private healthcare,” said David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, a trade body that represents about 100 private providers across the UK.

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Source: The Guardian, 2 March 2022


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