Spire Healthcare, one of the UK’s leading private hospital operators, has returned to profit after a surge in the number of patients opting for hip and knee surgeries. Long waiting lists at the NHS have resulted in more people paying for health care themselves.

We spoke to three people without health insurance who were getting private advice and treatment.

“I’ve decided that I can’t wait that long”

Steve Deemann.Steve Deeman has paid about £ 1,500 to date for his treatment.

In January of this year, Steve Deeman in Nottinghamshire was expecting an eight-week delay to get the lesion diagnosed on his forehead. “It looked suspicious and grew pretty quickly over the next few weeks,” said the 69-year-old retired teacher.

He was referred to a local hospital dermatology department in early March and given a consultation appointment for May. “I decided I couldn’t wait that long and sought private medical help a few days later,” he said.

Deeman saw a specialist dermatologist who diagnosed the lesion as cancerous and removed it the next day. His treatment has cost about £ 1,500 to date, but further follow-up exams have been recommended that could bring the total to £ 2,000. “I was lucky enough to be able to afford treatment, but there are a lot of people who couldn’t.”

“I’m not indulging in paying £ 13,000”

“I think the NHS is wonderful, but I don’t understand why it all takes so long,” said a 60-year-old woman in Dorset, who wanted to remain anonymous.

She was first diagnosed with sciatica in 2015, but things got worse due to the pandemic and sports venues closings. She spoke to her family doctor in September 2019 and was referred to a hospital.

In July, she decided to pay for a consultation privately and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the intervertebral spaces. “I tried a steroid injection that cost about £ 2,000 but it didn’t work, so I decided to have decompression surgery in August and now my life is almost back to normal in two months,” she said.

The entire treatment cost about £ 13,000 and she said she needed to “borrow some money, cancel a few trips and move things”. “I don’t allow myself to pay for it,” she said. “I had no other choice. I think the NHS groaned in front of Covid and it’s pretty sad to see how things are now. “

“There were waiting lists before the pandemic”

A 61-year-old man from London, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he was forced to use savings to pay £ 3,000 for a hernia operation he needed to continue working in television production.

“My GP told me it would take several months for this procedure to be done at the NHS, possibly up to a year.

“Given the prospect of not having to work for so long, I decided to ‘park’ my socialist principles and examine the possibility of private health insurance. I don’t have private health insurance. “

Three weeks after seeing a private doctor, he was operated on a week ago.

But he also needs another surgery for a herniated disc and is still waiting for an NHS appointment. “This operation would cost £ 26,000. I do not have that much money.”