There was a 7% increase in private hospital admissions in the first three quarters (January-September) of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to the latest data released by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) today.

Admissions paid for through private medical insurance remained at near record levels (the joint-second highest ever recorded) and above the same quarter Q3 (July-September) in 2022. This could reflect a growing awareness of, and appetite for, private medical insurance in the face of continuing long wait times in the NHS.

The number of private hospital admissions paid for by the patient, or their family, (known as ‘self-pay’), was 32% above pre-pandemic levels, although they did fall 8% to 66,000 in quarter 3 2023, compared to the post-pandemic peaks of 72,000 per quarter.

Richard Wells, Director of Healthcare Informatics, who manages PHIN’s data team, said:

“Given the level of admissions in the first three quarters of the year (January-September), it would be very unexpected if hospital admissions in the private healthcare sector don’t hit record levels in 2023 when all the data is collected and analysed. However, the way people are paying for their treatment does seem to be changing again.

“After a rapid growth in self-pay following the pandemic, private medical insurance has been firmly reestablished as the primary method of payment for private healthcare and, indeed, is now more popular than before the pandemic.

“This will be down to several factors, including the increased availability of workplace-based insurance schemes and a better understanding of the costs and benefits of medical insurance.

“Cosmetic surgery, which is predominantly paid for using self-pay , could be a factor in the reduction in admissions paid for that way. Procedures including Breast enlargements, Breast implants and Rhinoplasty (nose jobs) were all down on the same quarter in 2022.

“With widespread reports of people travelling abroad for such surgeries, it’s possible this is impacting the number of people choosing to self-pay for these treatments in the UK.

“We think it’s understandable that the lure of a ‘cheaper’ option abroad could be very attractive, especially if it’s combined with a bit of warmer weather, but – while many countries in Europe and beyond have excellent healthcare systems – we would caution people to ensure they do their research before making any decisions. People should be aware that there are a variety of standards and regulations in different countries and that these may impact the treatment and aftercare they receive.

“We encourage people, even when travelling abroad, to use the information on the PHIN website as a standard template for questions when enquiring about medical care as we document the optimum information required.

“We would advise potential patients – whether thinking of travelling for a medical or cosmetic procedure – to check the qualifications and accreditations of the healthcare providers and facilities in the chosen country. It’s important to check that the medical care professionals are certified and the hospital or clinic adheres to international standards.”

PHIN is not-for-profit and independent and works to increase transparency in healthcare. It publishes a wide range of information on the UK’s private hospitals and consultants to support the growing number of people considering private treatment. It’s latest quarterly Market Update, published today, provides information on the type of procedures people are having, as well as regional breakdown and more. Visit to take advantage of this free service.

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