Here are the detailed results of a survey Independent Practitioner Today has conducted in conjunction with the Medical Defence Union on the impact of the pandemic on private practice.
The doctors surveyed came to the following assessment of how their private practice has changed following the pandemic:
Waiting times for patient initial appointments have increased – 30.8%;
Waiting times to complete treatments have risen – 29.6%.
Patients present with more advanced pathologies – 25.8%;
Increased demand for routine screening and tests – 27.3%.
The pandemic has ushered in more frequent use of remote consultations/telemedicine for 42.3% of respondents and a greater flexibility of appointments for patients (12.7%) plus more flexibility of work for doctors (12.3%) too.
According to 11.2% of doctors, it is now easier to communicate with patients. But they are in a minority – 14.2% find it harder; 25.8% cited other changes.
The move by a minority of independent hospital operators to try and attract doctors to work for them on an employed and salaried basis, rather than practising privileges, has been fiercely resisted by most consultants and our survey results sprung no surprises.
However, the salaried option received stronger support than might have been expected before the pandemic.
Asked how likely they were to undertake employed rather than self-employed work in private practice, nearly two-thirds were not in favour: 33.8% said ‘not likely’ and 31.8% ruled it out, saying ‘not at all’.
But 10% said ‘highly likely’ and a similar number opted for ‘somewhat likely’. 11.1% were neither concerned nor unconcerned about the issue. Five per cent stated they were already working as employees in private practice.
The pandemic’s experience may be a big factor in whether around one-in-five doctors with a private practice decide to carry on.
We asked: ‘To what extent do you agree with the statement: I am more likely to retire from private practice due to the pandemic?’ 4.6% said they strongly agreed and 14.2% answered they ‘tend to agree’.
But 31.2% strongly disagreed, 20% tended to disagree and 30% expressed no firm opinion.
Thank you to all the doctors who took time to take part.
See diagrams below