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The number of people paying for elective surgery and similar treatments in the UK has risen by 39% from pre-pandemic levels, fueling growth in private healthcare, according to figures released on Friday.

Private healthcare providers admitted 198,000 patients in the October-December 2021 quarter, returning to the level achieved in the same three-month period in 2019, a statement from the Private Healthcare Information Network showed.

Of those, 69,000 were self-pay admissions, compared to 50,000 in the same period in 2019. For the full year, self-pay was up 29 percent over 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of patients opting for treatment through insurance in the fourth quarter of last year was 13% below 2019 levels, the independent government watchdog said.

Wales had the biggest jump, with 90% more people (3,575) paying out of pocket. Scotland recorded an increase of 84%. London was the biggest market with 13,875 self-funded people, a fifth more than in the last quarter of 2019.

Self-funded hip and knee replacements more than doubled, while cataract surgeries increased by 56%.

Many have opted for the self-funding route in the UK as NHS waiting lists have swelled to more than 6 million, exacerbated by the pandemic. Payment options have also helped spread the cost.

The latest figures from May show a record 6.6 million people waiting for NHS treatment, with 2.4 million waiting more than 18 weeks. The average waiting time is significantly higher than during the pre-Covid era.

At the end of 2019, healthcare consultancy LaingBuisson put the UK self-pay market, which includes diagnostic and elective surgical procedures such as hip and knee replacement, at £1.1bn, accounting for around 21% of private healthcare market.

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About the Author: Chaz Cutler

My name is Chasity. I love to follow the stock market and financial news!