Private providers struggle with staffing and inflation

Inflation and staffing problems are two massive issues of concern for private healthcare providers looking ahead to 2023.

They are citing staffing pressures as a key worry, with eight in ten providers seeing these as their biggest challenge. 

Findings from the Independent Healthcare Providers Network’s (IHPN) ‘Industry Barometer 2022’,  show 73% aim to ‘grow their own’ staff in the coming year through the increased use of apprenticeships, training and development, and 65% prioritising employee support and well-being. 

Nearly all providers (96%) expect to increase staff training to aid recruitment and retention. 

Almost two-thirds (63%) of providers are reporting that inflationary pressures are a key challenge for their business. 

More than half of respondents (54%) feel this impact most heavily through pressure on wages, followed by prices for services failing to keep up with inflation (42%). 

But the IHPN said it was encouraging to see no respondents reported these cost pressures were resulting in declining consumer confidence.

Self-pay market  

Its findings show 88% of providers are ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about the private self-pay market. Over half (55%) also feel ‘positively’ or ‘very positively’ about insured market.

Almost half of providers (47%) see their NHS market as the biggest area of growth in the coming year.

Six-in-ten providers say they ‘do not feel part’ of their local NHS system, but there is significant enthusiasm from the sector to provide greater support to the NHS and to help it tackle growing pressure. 

David Hare

IHPN chief executive David Hare said: ‘While the sector remains fully committed to playing its role in the wider NHS recovery – and sees this market as a key prospect for growth – providers are reporting real concerns around the establishment of NHS Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which independent providers are saying that they feel excluded from despite the sector playing a key role in frontline NHS service delivery. 

‘Given the scale of the challenge in tackling the current backlog of NHS care, it’s vital that an “all shoulders to the wheel” approach is taken, with a key role set out for independent healthcare providers in every NHS ICS. 

‘We’re therefore urging the NHS to ‘help us, help you’ and ensure the sector can play its full part in improving patient access to care in the coming months and years.’