Doctors see increasing numbers turning to private healthcare

More than 90% of doctors have seen an increase in patients struggling to access NHS services over the last five years, according to a new report from medical publisher Medscape UK.

The survey of physicians’ opinions on current social issues also found that 57% of respondents had seen an increase in patients turning to private healthcare due to long waiting lists.

The report is based on a survey of 467 UK physicians which aimed to get an independent temperature check of current attitudes across the healthcare sector. Access to healthcare was ranked as the top concern among doctors, with 90% reporting an increase in waiting lists.

‘The UK healthcare system is under incredible pressure at the moment and there is worry it could get worse this winter,’ said Vanessa Sibbald, managing editor at Medscape UK. ‘It is unsurprising yet worrying that amid rising waiting lists the number one concern of doctors is access to healthcare. Our report underlines the urgency to tackle the current healthcare access crisis in the UK.’

One survey respondent said: ‘Access to healthcare is a perennial problem globally irrespective of the added burden of Covid-19.’ Another said access had been ‘severely compromised through the non-evidence-based policies driven by public health authorities and the government’.

The same report found that 92% of doctors felt Covid-19 had impacted the overall quality of care, with a further 79% believing the state of healthcare will deteriorate in a post-pandemic world.

‘Healthcare staff are increasingly burnt-out, cutting hours back, retiring or just leaving healthcare. The workforce is tired and overworked, with no prospect of improving working conditions or a pay-rise,’ said one respondent.