Private and independent sector hospitals are carrying out “significantly” more insurer-funded procedures now than they were when the pandemic lockdown was first introduced earlier this year.
hospital activity by specialty
Figures released today by private medical billing specialist Healthcode show there was a “steady increase” in activity for insurer-funded healthcare in June, particularly in oncology where volumes have already returned to pre-crisis levels.
The statistics come in spite of reports that healthcare funded by private medical insurance (PMI) had come to an almost standstill as private and independent sector hospitals set aside capacity to help the NHS to cope in the early stages of the pandemic.
Doctors’ leaders told The Times this week that health insurance was “worthless if patients can’t access treatment” and that billing data shows that private consultancy is operating at less than half of normal capacity.
Richard Packard, Chairman of the Federation of Independent Practitioners Organisation, had told the newspaper that the transfer of more than 8,000 private hospital beds to the public sector in March to help to tackle pandemic risks “backfiring” if the four million people who have PMI turn to the health service for treatment, burdening taxpayers and adding to waiting lists.
hospital activity by specialty
Healthcode, the UK’s official clearing organisation for private medical bills, confirmed today that data shows that level of activity for the whole of June 2020 was 47% that of the same period in 2019 and this trend has continued into early July (48% of July 2019).
While that is indeed around half the levels of normal activity, a spokesman for Healthcode said it is a “significant advance” on the monthly activity level for May 2020 which was just 29% of that in May 2019.
But the spokesman added that at the same time, the figures paint a “mixed” picture with geography and speciality proving to be important factors in the rate of recovery across the sector since the end of lockdown.
‘This growth is sustainable and the independent healthcare sector is already well on the way to recovery’
Peter Connor, MD, Healthcode
Nonetheless, Healthcode Managing Director Peter Connor said: “Since private providers were given the green light to resume treatment, everyone has been working hard to deliver high quality care to patients.
“As a result, we saw an increase of approximately 50% in activity in June compared with May across the sector, albeit there were still considerable variations.
“This positive trend has continued into July which supports our view that this growth is sustainable and the independent healthcare sector is already well on the way to recovery.”
However, while oncology activity levels for oncology in June of this year were operating at 99%, for orthopaedics and physiotherapy – both traditionally strong areas for PMI – were 25% and 24% respectively.
The trend is being closely monitored across the sector as the debate continues over what types or levels of rebate or compensation – if any – should be offered by PMI providers to members who have been unable to access treatment as a result of independent and private sector hospitals being severely limited as a result of measures taken during the pandemic.