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Millions of NHS patients are prepared to go into debt to beat waiting lists

Millions of NHS patients are prepared to go into debt to beat waiting lists as figures reveal 85% are considering private healthcare

  • Doctors warn patients are getting ‘significantly worse’ while they wait 
  • Eight in ten Britons on waiting lists now say they feel ‘failed’ by the NHS 
  • It comes after the service prioritised Covid patients during the pandemic 










NHS waiting lists are now so long that more than eight in ten patients are considering going private, a damning poll shows.

Millions are in such pain they are even prepared to plunge themselves into debt or raid their savings or pension pots to get treatment.

Doctors warn patients are getting ‘significantly worse’ while they wait, leading to widespread dissatisfaction and misery.

Eight in ten Britons on waiting lists now say they feel ‘failed’ by the NHS, the survey of 1,000 adults by ITV’s Good Morning Britain reveals.

Millions are in such pain they are even prepared to plunge themselves into debt or raid their savings or pension pots to get treatment

It comes after the service prioritised Covid patients during the pandemic, causing huge disruption to routine care.

The NHS constitution says people should get the treatment they need within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP.

But waiting lists in England stand at a record high of 6.1million, with 310,813 patients waiting more than a year and some for more than two.

Alarmingly, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned the list is likely to get even longer before it starts to fall.

More than half of those questioned have been waiting for more than the 18-week target.

The NHS constitution says people should get the treatment they need within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP

The NHS constitution says people should get the treatment they need within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP

Some 85 per cent have paid for or are considering private medical treatment, with 68 per cent ending up in debt as a result. Of these, 84 per cent are worried about how they will pay it off.

Meanwhile, doctors warn more people are having their referrals to hospital rejected. A shocking 93 per cent say patients’ outcomes have ‘worsened’ while their treatment is delayed – 58 per cent ‘significantly’, a separate poll of 761 family doctors by GP magazine Pulse revealed.

In addition, 85 per cent say there has been an increase in referrals to secondary care being rejected or bounced back. 

Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: ‘These findings further highlight the high number of patients facing long waits. The impact can be devastating, as people are left in limbo and in pain. That’s something we have to tackle. We must get back to providing timely surgery.’

Rachel Power, chief of the Patients Association, said: ‘Opting for private healthcare is not a genuine choice if you’re going private because you can no longer bear to wait for NHS treatment, and especially if paying for it puts you in debt.

‘Patients waiting for care need more support than they’re getting. How many will be beyond help by the time they do receive hospital treatment?’

The NHS said ‘the pandemic has inevitably disrupted how we deliver care and our routine service’. A spokesman urged anyone with health concerns to contact their local GP or get in touch with 111 online.

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