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Figures and Facts About Uk Private Healthcare

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 25 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Private Healthcare Private Hospitals

Facts and figures about the private health sector in the UK are surprisingly hard to come by.

There is no central authority or organisation responsible for collating data from the many different private healthcare providers and private hospitals.

Some of the statistics are published but in the form of reports and analyses that are then provided for a fee, often quite a large one.

Also, because of the scale of private medicine and the frequent changes that occur within the sector and between private medicine and the NHS, data is often out of date when published.

Employment Statistics

Looking at the provision of health services as a whole in the UK in 2008, which provides 7% of all the jobs in Britain, 21% of health professionals were employed in the private sector compared to 73% of health professionals who worked within the National Health Service. The remainder were made up from volunteer workers.

Hospital Beds

The number of beds available in the private sector, in acute hospitals, has increased during the last decade. The number of beds available in the NHS has decreased over that period. However, the greatest number of beds in the private sector is still within the private nursing homes.

UK Private hospitals provide around 11,200 beds for in-hospital stays.

The number of beds available in private hospitals for treating mental illness rose to 8647 in 2008, which represents an increase of 35% in just 5 years. The private sector provides 24% of all beds for mental health patients with the remainder in the NHS.

Spending on Private Healthcare

The amount of money that people spent on private health care in 2008 dropped compared 2007 because of the economic recession. In 2007, people spent £520 million on private health with £146 million and that going on cosmetic surgery bills. In 2008 the total had fallen to £515 million but the spending on cosmetic procedures had increased to £170 million. This suggests that people are spending less on treatments for their health and more on treatments for their physical appearance.

The overall income for the private health sector in the UK in 2007 was £3.2 billion.

Private Medical Insurance

Four and a quarter million people in the UK had private medical insurance as the start of 2008. Private medical insurance and schemes for self-insurance was in place for nearly 7.5 million people, over 12% of the UK’s population.

Private Healthcare Providers

Private healthcare in the UK is dominated by the NHS (which has the largest number of private beds in its private patient units) and the five largest private companies BMI Healthcare, Nuffield, BUPA, Capio Healthcare UK and HCA International. There are small groups that run private hospitals that operate regionally in the UK.

Costs of Treatment

The costs of different operations vary depending on their complexity and also which hospital carries out the surgery. Some examples of common operations and their likely costs are: Hip replacement £7000 - £9000; Cataract removal £1800 - £2900; Facelift £4200 - £5800; Knee replacement £8800 -£10 300; Ear correction (for ears that stick out) £1100 - £2800.

Costs of medical treatment are in general very high because of the equipment and number of medical staff required. Cancer treatment is possible in the private sector but the treatments required such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy are incredibly expensive and a course of treatment can run into the hundreds of thousands.

Access to Private Medicine

Some types of treatment that are available privately cannot be accessed without going through your GP first. However, for others, you can make an appointment directly with a doctor in a private hospital. Examples include screening tests, courses of physiotherapy and cosmetic surgery.

People who pay for medical treatment in the private sector using health insurance may need to have their insurance claim form signed off by their own doctor. Some doctors make a charge for this.

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