In the face of rising waiting lists government policy has aimed to increase the role of the independent sector in tackling these record delays, but as a Lowdown analysis of recent figures confirms the NHS is still shouldering the vast majority of the task.
- The number of NHS hospital admissions handled by the independent sector has risen by 28% in the last year to over 800,000, but this is overshadowed by the 15.6 million admissions into NHS hospitals.
- Overall though, the share of total admissions treated by the independent sector has risen to 5%, from around 4% in 2021/22.
- The NHS continues to handle virtually all emergency admissions – 6,054,000 in the last year (2022/23).
- Of the nearly 90 million outpatients attendances in 2022/3 the NHS handled just over 94%. The proportion treated by non NHS providers rose by less than 0.5%
- In the short term, private hospitals have a very limited scope to tackle the scale of the NHS waiting lists, due to limited beds, profit targets and a reliance on NHS consultants to deliver their work. A longer term policy to expand the outsourcing of NHS clinical work to the independent sector comes with considerable impacts upon the NHS and patients.
Full report in The Lowdown, 6 October 2023