Boom time for private GPs

By Robin Stride

Over half of the adults in Britain (53%) would consider seeing a private GP in the future, according to a new poll.

As many as a third of the 2,000 respondents participating in the survey said they had used a private GP in the past three years. Most (60%) had booked more than one appointment.

The Focaldata study findings correspond with rising level of demand for private GPs at Spire Healthcare’s network of private hospitals. 

Its latest financial results, published earlier this month, reported a 46% growth in private GP revenues following a 39% increase in GP appointments at Spire’s network of private hospitals.

The hospital group, which commissioned the survey, found:

  • Over half of respondents (54%) found it difficult to book a face-to-face appointment with an NHS GP;
  • Almost half (45%) struggled to get a phone appointment;
  • For patients who believed they needed an appointment in the past six months, just under a quarter (24%) were unable to book one.

Civica Medical Billing

Nearly half of respondents (49%) would consider seeing a private GP ‘to relieve the burden on the NHS’, while 72% of respondents said the opportunity to pick and choose between using a NHS or a private GP, depending on the medical concern, would be appealing.

What public want

When asked about the reasons for considering private GP services, the speed of being seen (52%), ease of booking appointments (37%) and the ability to book face-to-face appointments (37%) come out on top.

The survey found that almost three quarters of Britons (70%) are worried about accessing an NHS GP if needed. 

Dr Jeremy Cohen, a GP at Spire’s clinic in Harpenden, said: ‘Most patients seen at Spire Healthcare seem to prefer to be seen privately because of both the speed of access and longer appointment time. 

‘During the pandemic, I had contact with lots of patients who were simply desperate to speak with a doctor but whose concerns were not deemed urgent.

‘Post-pandemic, I now see a broad range of private patients, some of whom require on-going care for chronic illnesses, some who come for a one-off problem, and others who come for a single consultation but then stay for the duration of their treatment.’

He believes the most significant benefit of private care is the time available to discuss an individual’s medical concerns and to go through his recommendations in depth.

Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 2,010 adults between 28 February and 3 March 2022 via Focaldata.

Which features would attract you most to the idea of using a private GP, should you ever need to consider it? 

Please select up to three.                                                                                                   

Source: Focaldata