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Independent health sector anticipate strong growth in both NHS and private pay markets in 2021  

Date of publication: 24th Sep 2020

Categories: Latest news

Independent healthcare providers are anticipating strong growth in both their NHS and private pay markets in the coming year, according to a new survey conducted by the sector’s industry body.

Findings from the Independent Healthcare Providers Network’s (IHPN) first ever “Industry Barometer” – which surveyed providers from across the independent health sector – show that while the impact of covid19 has proven extremely challenging for the sector, IHPN members feel positive around the future of their key markets and are anticipating growth in both domestic self-pay and NHS funded services in the coming year. Almost six in ten respondents (58%) to IHPN’s barometer reported to feel very positively or positively about the market environment for providers of NHS-funded services, with a similar percentage (55%) feeling very positively or positively about the domestic self-pay market.

In light of the historic new partnerships established between independent and NHS providers since the onset of covid19, IHPN’s Industry Barometer also found improving relations between the two sectors. 50% of respondents felt that relationships have improved with NHS organisations in their local area since the onset of covid19, with no respondents reporting any deterioration in their relationships, and a further 46% experiencing a mixed bag with some relationships improving and others worsening.

The sector’s relationships with the Government are also seen to have improved in recent months, with almost two thirds (62%) of respondents feeling very positively or positively about the current government’s attitude towards the independent health sector and not one respondent reporting a negative view.

While overall there is much positivity in the sector about the coming year, existing concerns around Brexit and workforce shortages, as well as the increased operating costs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, loom large for independent providers and were identified as key challenges for the sector going forward.

The barometer was sponsored by Practicus, a company that has been helping independent healthcare organisations navigate change for over 15 years.

David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said:

“Independent healthcare providers delivers care to millions of patients every year and our first ever Industry Barometer provides a valuable snapshot of how senior leaders feel about the current “state of the sector”

“While of course covid19 has placed significant challenges on all healthcare providers, with ongoing concerns around the impact of social distancing, tough infection prevention and control measures on service delivery, it’s hugely heartening to see that members are feeling positive about their prospects for growth and the ability to continue providing high quality services to both its NHS and privately-funded patients.

“And while the role of the sector in the NHS has long been viewed as contentious in some quarters, it’s particularly promising to see the sector’s relationships with both the NHS and Government improving over the last few months  – presenting real opportunities for a new approach to public/private partnership with long term benefits for patients.”

Darren Tolhurst, CEO of Practicus, said:

“Given everything that has happened this year, it is an important time to take stock and understand the landscape everyone is facing as the independent sector heads into 2021. IHPN has a leading role in providing that over-all perspective to the industry and the barometer is an important addition. As a fellow supporter of the sector, we are proud to sponsor IHPN’s initiative, the first of many to come.”