HBI Deals+Insights / News

Private sector dominance in UK’s diagnostics sector is increasing

In this infographic we examine NHS wait times for diagnostic procedures and role of the private sector in bridging the gap. 

NHS data reveals a significant percentage of patients waiting over six months for Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) or bone density scans. The number of people waiting for these scans was alarmingly high in December 2020 and increased further in 2021. Despite a slight reduction in overall wait times for diagnostics, the waitlist remains concerningly long.

The UK ranks 23rd out of 29 European countries for scanners per capita, highlighting a significant shortfall. DEXA imaging and workforce expansion have been neglected, despite increasing waiting lists, underscoring the urgent need for investment.

Nearly 10 million people in England could be waiting for NHS appointments or treatments, as per latest data. To tackle Covid-19 backlogs and reduce waiting times, the UK is increasingly relying on the independent sector

Large private providers like Alliance Medical and InHealth run community diagnostic centres (CDCs) with the NHS, addressing waitlists and reinforcing their role in diagnostic healthcare services.

According to the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), diagnostic upper GI endoscopy and diagnostic colonoscopy are among the top five procedures performed by private hospitals in the UK. This indicates a growing trend of individuals seeking private care for diagnostics in the UK.

The Labour Party pledged to double NHS scanning capacity and integrate AI in every hospital. Now in government, the impact of these pledges remains to be seen.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Rakshitha Narasimhan or call 0207 183 3779.