Private sector ready to take NHS strain

Mounting waiting lists in the NHS are set to see more capacity being taken up by the private hospital sector and many of the consultants working within it. 

Responding to the publication of the latest NHS performance figures, the boss of the private hospitals’ trade body, announced: ‘With patients waiting ever longer for care, independent providers are going to need to remain an essential part of NHS capacity to ensure that NHS patients can access the care they need quickly and safely.’

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), said latest figures showed the largest NHS waiting list on record at over 4.59m people – in addition to the more than 5m ‘hidden waiting list’ of people who have not yet presented for treatment.

He added: ‘It is clear that all parts of the healthcare system are going to be needed to help bring NHS waiting times down as quickly as possible. 

‘Independent hospitals have played a significant role in ensuring non-Covid NHS treatment could continue during the pandemic and have now delivered over 2.8m NHS operations, consultations, chemotherapy sessions and scans since last March under the historic national deal with NHS England.’ 

The waiting list is the largest ever reported and, within it, the number of people in England waiting longer than a year for hospital treatment has shot up to more than a quarter of a million following the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The Royal College Surgeons of England warned: ‘The latest wave of Covid may have subsided, but the huge sea of need behind it is now coming into view.’

Vice-president Mr Tim Mitchell said: ‘Dealing with this daunting backlog will take time and also sustained investment in the NHS.’