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Why Are More People In The UK Turning To Private Healthcare? – Podcast

When Danielle Mitchell began getting blinding headaches, the pain affected her life to such an extent that she couldn’t leave the house and she stopped answering the phone to friends. A trip to her GP resulted in a referral to an NHS neurologist. But there was a problem: she’d need to wait 31 weeks. In despair, she counted up some money she’d been given as birthday and Christmas presents and sought out an appointment with private specialist.

It’s a story that is being replicated across the country amid huge NHS waiting lists; a legacy of the pandemic, but also a hangover from years of staff shortages and underinvestment and now compounded by cancellations due to strikes. As the Guardian’s health policy editor, Denis Campbell, tells Nosheen Iqbal, private healthcare in the UK is something neither patients nor practitioners feel particularly comfortable talking about. For patients it can feel like queue jumping and for doctors a betrayal of the NHS that trained them. But as it becomes more and more common as a healthcare option, it could have long-term political implications and undermine the NHS’s founding promise: free to those who need it at the point of use.

Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Support The Guardian

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