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Millions of UK patients forced to go private amid record NHS waiting lists

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Millions of patients are being forced to pay for private healthcare amid record NHS waiting lists and are having to cut spending, raid savings or get into debt to fund it, new research reveals.

One in 10 (10%) adults in the UK have turned to the private sector or independent healthcare in just the last 12 months, according to a survey commissioned by charity Engage Britain. Of those, almost two-thirds (63%) did so because they faced long delays or could not access treatment on the NHS.

The latest NHS England figures show the number of people in England waiting for routine hospital treatments has jumped to a record 6.8 million. Of those who have gone private, almost half (46%) were forced to reduce their spending in other areas, plunder savings they had been keeping for another purpose, or get into financial debt to pay for it.

Miriam Levin, health and care programme director at Engage Britain, said: “While the NHS still unites many of us with a feeling of pride, it’s clear more and more people feel forced to turn to private treatment.

“As people suffer through months of pain and discomfort after postponed appointments, or waste time and energy chasing up referrals, millions are feeling desperate enough to use savings or get into debt to help us get well again.”

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Source: The Guardian, 11 September 2022

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