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Patients are shelling out a fortune to see a private GPs, healthcare providers say 

Patients are increasingly paying to see a doctor privately, according to healthcare providers.

For a fee of about £100, a face-to-face consultation can be arranged almost immediately, sometimes on the same day.

Patients usually do not need to be insured or even to have a ‘referral’ if they are paying for it out of their own pocket.

Spire, Britain’s second-biggest private healthcare provider, is reporting an 81 per cent increase in ‘self-pay’ patients this year compared with 2019.

It charges £90 for a 30-minute appointment described as ‘quick and easy access to private GP services – when you need it’.

A spokesman told the Mail: ‘People are in pain and they are choosing not to wait for incredibly stretched GP services and the NHS to treat them.’

Spire, Britain’s second-biggest private healthcare provider, is reporting an 81 per cent increase in ‘self-pay’ patients this year compared with 2019. It charges £90 for a 30-minute appointment described as ‘quick and easy access to private GP services – when you need it’.

Dr Neil Haughton, a private GP in Notting Hill and the president of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: ‘We have never been busier. 

‘All my private GP colleagues are saying we can’t keep up with demand.

‘We are literally inundated. Some we have to turn away because we don’t have enough slots.

‘The fact is, patients want to come and see me, they don’t want a video consultation.

‘And as a doctor, you can miss the nuances if you don’t see your patients directly. You don’t pick up on the invisible things.

‘It’s also inequitable. My 90-year-old mum, for example, hasn’t got a smartphone or a computer, and actually you need to see people like that in person.’

He added: ‘You can get a mammogram or an ultrasound for a couple of hundred pounds, and people often don’t realise that.’

Dr Neil Haughton, a private GP in Notting Hill and the president of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: ‘We have never been busier. 'All my private GP colleagues are saying we can’t keep up with demand. The fact is, patients want to come and see me, they don’t want a video consultation.'

Dr Neil Haughton, a private GP in Notting Hill and the president of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: ‘We have never been busier. ‘All my private GP colleagues are saying we can’t keep up with demand. The fact is, patients want to come and see me, they don’t want a video consultation.’

Other ‘independent’ GPs agree that their surgeries are busier than ever. 

One, Dr Martin Saweirs, told the Sunday Times that many of the patients to his Harley Street clinic had not previously thought about paying for healthcare.

‘It started about nine months ago. There were loads of people who had stored up things they hadn’t wanted to see anyone about during lockdown,’ he said, adding: ‘I didn’t get into medicine to talk to people across the camera. 

‘You can’t listen to someone’s heart or examine their abdomen over the phone.’

At Nuffield Health, which runs 31 private hospitals across Britain, referral rates for patients needing specialist care are twice as high as before the pandemic.

Nuffield Health claims its private doctors offer a ‘full range of GP services near you’, with no need to register.

Its doctors operate out of hospitals, fitness clubs and local medical centres. 

While NHS GPs claim that their online or telephone appointments are just as effective, it seems that some frail, anxious or vulnerable people would rather go private.

Some patients are forking out five-figure sums to go straight to specialists – rather than wait for a GP to refer them.

Some desperate individuals even feel that they have to pay for heart operations that can cost as much as £20,000.

While NHS GPs claim that their online or telephone appointments are just as effective, it seems that some frail, anxious or vulnerable people would rather go private. Some patients are forking out five-figure sums to go straight to specialists – rather than wait for a GP to refer them

While NHS GPs claim that their online or telephone appointments are just as effective, it seems that some frail, anxious or vulnerable people would rather go private. Some patients are forking out five-figure sums to go straight to specialists – rather than wait for a GP to refer them

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest private hospital group, HCA, has seen a 20 per cent increase in ‘self-funded cardiothoracic inpatient procedures’.

One woman in her 60s from Dorset, who wanted to remain anonymous, revealed how she paid £13,000 for treatment on her spine, and said: ‘I don’t begrudge paying it. I had no other choice.

‘I think the NHS is wonderful but I don’t understand why everything takes so long.’

Dr Bruce Jobling, a private GP in Manchester, said: ‘We’ve been seeing a lot more mental health issues. 

‘We’re also seeing late presentations of worrying symptoms, sometimes due to a reluctance to seek NHS healthcare during the pandemic.’

Emma Hardy, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, said: ‘Some have told me they now feel they have no choice but to try to save the money to see a GP privately, as they are worried that their health may suffer as they wait to see their GP face to face.’

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