Three in five patients would be willing to pay for private testing to get a quicker diagnosis amid NHS delays, a report reveals.
More than 415,000 people had been waiting longer than the expected six weeks for a key diagnostic test in December, according to NHS England data.
Now, a new survey by the Patients’ Association reveals that people want better access to early, accurate tests and scans.
Around 60 per cent said they would be willing to pay to get a test if they had to wait too long or if the test they needed was not available on the health service, even including those who would not consider themselves “rich”.
More than three in five (61 per cent) believe being able to test for some conditions at home would help speed up the process.
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Around 60 per cent said they would be willing to pay to get a test if they had to wait too long or if the test they needed was not available on the health service, even including those who would not consider themselves “rich”. Pictured is one of England’s new Community Diagnostic Centers (CDC), the Wood Green Community Diagnostic Center in The Mall.
The Patients Association, in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics, surveyed 1,177 people in the UK who had received NHS diagnostic support in the previous six months. It revealed “several challenges” patients face in accessing diagnostic tests and showed that they also want to better understand why each check is necessary.
And nine in ten (90 percent) said it should be easier to get the diagnostic tests they need.
The Patients Association, in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics, surveyed 1,177 people in the UK who had received NHS diagnostic support in the previous six months.
It revealed “several challenges” patients experience in accessing diagnostic tests and demonstrated that they also want to better understand why each check is necessary.
A third of respondents (33 percent) said that when they tried to get a test, there were no appointments available locally.
Nearly four in five patients (78 percent) felt testing facilities should be closer to home for easier access.
And seven in ten (70 percent) wanted a clearer understanding of how to access checks.
Only one in ten people (11 percent) said they never had problems getting a test or its results, or did not face consequences if they did.
For those living with chronic illnesses, delays and difficulties in accessing diagnosis have had significant consequences.
Almost one in five (17 per cent) said their long-term recovery had been significantly delayed.
Many more reported consequences for their physical and mental health and overall work and family life.
Respondents were also unhappy about the lack of access to test results and a clear explanation of them.
Nearly nine in ten (88 percent) wanted a realistic timeline for their test results to arrive, and a similar number (87 percent) asked for a better explanation of what those results meant for them and their treatment.
NHS figures show 416,889 patients, 26.8 per cent of the total, were waiting more than six weeks for one of 15 standard tests, including an MRI, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy in December, the last month available.
The figure is higher than the 375,151 (23.3 percent of the total) in November, but lower than the equivalent figure for December 2022, which was 481,924 (31.3 percent).
The NHS elective recovery plan sets out an ambition for 95 per cent of patients who need a diagnostic test to receive one within six weeks by March 2025.
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: ‘Patients value diagnostic services; That is very clear in the survey.
‘Frustrations over access to testing became apparent. Those who responded to the survey clearly value being partners in their care.
‘And to partner with the professionals who send them for testing, patients need and want clear communication about how to get tested, why they need a test, and when they will get their results.
“Healthcare professionals can improve patient-centered care when ordering diagnostic tests by explaining how, why and when.”