A total of 11.5 million adults, or more than two in ten, reported waiting for a hospital appointment or to begin treatment, with nearly 6%, or more than 3 million people, either paying for private care or having private insurance pay for some or all of their treatment.
Statistics released today by the ONS show how delays in the NHS negatively affect people’s lives. Around 18% of those waiting for NHS treatment reported that their appointment had been cancelled or postponed in the previous month while about 17% of those waiting for treatment have been doing so for more than a year.
A third or 31% of employed or self-employed persons claimed their employment had been impacted by waiting for NHS treatment. Of these, more than half or 52% said that they had modified the activities they perform, 14% had cut back on hours, and 11% had taken extended leaves of absence.
Brett Hill, head of health & protection at Broadstone, said: “Another day and another set of parlous figures for the UK’s public health service. With the NHS reporting that the backlog for treatment now totals over 7 million it is little wonder that the ONS data tracking access to the NHS uncovers such a high proportion of people waiting for its services alongside the damaging consequences for people’s health, both mentally and physically, as well as on productivity.
“It is little surprise therefore that we are starting to see demand for private healthcare increase with over 3 million people saying they had paid, or had insurance pay, for some form of private medical appointment, test or treatment in the past month because the wait for the NHS was too long.
“Limited NHS access is no longer just a patient crisis, but a growing problem for employers with over 350,000 leaving the workforce since the pandemic because of long-term sickness. Workers who must wait many months before starting treatment are reducing hours or leaving the workforce entirely.
“It is why businesses must invest in the health of their staff, taking proactive steps to support employees such as providing private healthcare and dental options. Robust and timely preventative action will help businesses maintain staffing levels, avoid costly exits and attract staff in the war for talent.”