Figures reveal surge in self-pay patients

Private providers have reported a self-pay surge among nearly 200,000 private patient admissions in figures for the latest available quarter – January to March 2022.

Latest data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) show this is higher than activity levels reported for the pre-pandemic quarter one in 2019, and the second highest rate over the past three-and-a-quarter years.

* Figures are rounded to the nearest 1,000. The total may not add as this is calculated using the actual figure then rounded.

Self-pay figures remained ‘high’, although quarter one this year was slightly lower than the previous three quarters. But it was still the fourth highest figure and the highest quarter one figure for the past four years and 36% up on quarter one 2021. 

After falling in quarter three of 2021, the number of people treated as insured patients again rose and was the highest since the pandemic although it remained below pre-Covid levels. 

PHIN said the latest reported quarter found insured activity was 11% below the comparative period in 2019, but at the same level as quarter two in 2021. 

‘NHS private patient services activity in self-pay and insured cases fell slightly from the previous quarter and remained below pre-pandemic activity levels. Self-pay was down 29% and insured cases down 49% from quarter 1 2019,’ the data provider added. 

Self-pay in the regions

London was once more the most active self-pay market, with over 13,000 self-pay admissions between January and March 2022, but it had the lowest growth rate. 

The South-east remained the next most active with just over 11,000 self-pay admissions during the reporting period, although it was the third lowest in terms of growth. 

PHIN reported that Wales saw the largest increase in self-pay admissions (115%) in the quarter and was the only nation or region with an increase in insured admissions (12%). 

Scotland continued to see a ‘strong growth’ in self-pay admissions (up 72%), but its insured admissions fell 18%.