Patterns of usage
Given how many people say NHS access problems are a major reason for choosing private healthcare, we asked people to tell us about whether they had tried to use the NHS before going private the last time they did so.
In total, 56% of people had tried to use the NHS before using private healthcare, while 42% had gone straight to the private system.
Younger people (63%) and those from DE social grades (63%) were more likely to have tried to use the NHS first before using the private system. For most of the different categories of people demographic groups we studied, around 40 to 50% had gone straight to the private system without first going through the NHS.
We also asked people to tell us about all the times they had used private healthcare – not just the most recent – and whether they had tried to use the NHS first.
Here the numbers are different – only around one in five (21%) people say they usually or always go straight to the private system while 78% say that they usually or always try to go to the NHS first.
This may indicate that the lengthy waiting lists across the NHS are changing patients’ behaviour.
Essentially more people have gone straight to the private system for their most recent episode of care but these people may typically have tried to use the NHS first.