There are now over 7 million people waiting for treatment - and nearly 3 million are waiting for more than 18 weeks, and more than 400,000 over a year. That means feeling unwell or in pain and/or being out of action for a very significant amount of time.
Equipsme’s founder and Managing Director Matthew Reed explains: “How long you’ll wait for treatment on the NHS is going to depend very much on where you live, and on what’s wrong with you. Some NHS Trusts are struggling more than others, and different services are affected in different ways. What we do know is that it’s a lottery that is having a huge impact on people’s lives.”
So what happens if you’ve got an Equipsme plan?
Well waiting times could look very different. All plans include GP access, and physio provision. According to the latest GP Survey by Pulse magazine, with the NHS, you could be waiting for a remote non-urgent GP appointment for around 8 days. With Equipsme you’ll get one in around 2 days on average – and get the convenience of being able to pick when you talk to someone.
Meanwhile the average NHS wait for a physio appointment can be around 133 days. With Equipsme, that’s reduced to around 2 days on average. Matthew adds: “If you’ve got something like a knee injury it could be impacting how you can live your life – or if you can work. Imagine having to live with that for more than 4 months - possibly with it getting worse - before you can access treatment. And we found the wait could be even longer if you ended up needing surgical intervention.”
Taking examples from two NHS trusts, the waiting time for a first outpatient appointment in general surgery was12 weeks in Cumbria, and 17 weeks in Derby. Equipsme hospital outpatient services can often be provided within 10 days, based on the experience of AXA Health who handle these claims for Equipsme. The time to your surgery itself could be22 weeks with the NHS, versus 2 to 4 weeks with Equipsme.
“If you’ve got an Equipsme plan, whether it’s a basic plan or includes diagnosis and/or treatment, you should be using it,” says Matthew, “and thinking about whether it’s doing everything you need it to. When it comes round to renewal time you can choose to pay to upgrade your cover - and you can pay to add family members at any point.
“For so many of us it’s now coming down to a cost/benefit analysis. Can you afford to wait for 4 months if something goes wrong, and/or can you afford to pay to go private yourself? Without support from an employer most of us can’t. That knee replacement operation, for instance, could cost you in the region of £13,925 if you were paying for it yourself.
“The good news is that your company has bought you a plan because they value your health and your input and want you to be fighting and working fit. And that’s something we’ve seen more and more organisations looking to invest in.
“We set up Equipsme to make private health cover a realistic and affordable possibility for business of all sizes, for staff at all levels – not just those at the top. What we’re NOT here to do is to disparage the NHS - or take away from what it does. It is absolutely critical that we preserve it. For me, that means if a company can afford to pay to support workforce healthcare – they should. Because that in turn means the NHS can focus in on the vulnerable and the critically ill.”