Consultants’ private work paid for by medical insurers is bouncing back and there are high hopes of a return soon to pre-pandemic levels.
According to new figures from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), the highest level of insured admissions since the pandemic – numbering 134,000 – was achieved for the third quarter of 2022.
Last year, admissions were at the highest, joint second highest and third highest levels since 2019 and the month-on-month rise from July to September suggests this pattern will continue.
PHIN chief executive Dr Ian Gargan said: ‘The private medical insurers we work with have been reporting growing customer acquisitions in recent months, so it is not a surprise to see the number of insured procedures is increasing after dropping off during the pandemic lockdowns.
‘It is too early to tell if this will mean a return to pre-pandemic levels of insured cases, though.’
PHIN said although the quarterly figures remain below pre-pandemic totals, they were only 6% under quarter three of 2019.
Alongside the rising insurance market there has been a slow-down in the self-pay market, which Dr Gargan believes result from the ‘cost of living’ crisis.
The total number of insured procedures at independent sites in Q3 2019 and Q3 2022 was almost equal at 126,000 admissions.
Insured admissions in the regions
Insured admissions remain down in many of the home nations and regions compared to quarter three of 2019. The South-west (-17%) and the North-east (-16%) maintained the largest differences over the previous levels, reported PHIN.
It added: ‘Reflecting the pattern of increasing insured admissions overall, there are areas of growth, the largest of which are Wales (8%) and Northern Ireland (4%).
‘London and the South-east are the regions with the highest number of procedures, but both are down on the levels of insured cases in Q3 2019.’
Scotland shows a small increase in insured admissions compared to the 10% reduction in Q2 2022 compared to Q2 2019.