With more than 7.2 million people on NHS waiting lists, many people are looking for alternative funding options to pay for non-emergency surgery.
55Plus, the independent equity release specialist, said cases across the industry have increased this year compared to the same period in 2022, January to March.
The national company, which has expertise in all aspects of equity release, has witnessed an increase in enquiries from people looking to pay for surgery, as a direct result of NHS waiting lists for treatment. Some people are reported to be waiting up to two years for knee and hip replacements.
Despite being classed as non-urgent, many of the medical conditions could potentially lead to loss of income and in some cases even the threat of unemployment, especially for those self-employed.
Jan Johnson, Founder and Director of 55Plus, said: “With the NHS in crisis and waiting lists growing longer, coupled with NHS strikes, more people are taking control of where and when they have procedures.
55Plus obtained figures from Liverpool Victoria, a leading UK life and pensions mutual insurer, which revealed that medical treatment was at 2% of all money released from January to March this year, compared to just 0.3% for the same period in 2022.
Ms Elisabeth Kneath, a retired English Teacher from Steyning- West Sussex, was facing up to two years for a hip replacement on the NHS. Having sold her car and spent all her savings to fund her first hip replacement in 2021, Elisabeth was in serious financial trouble and unfortunately needed surgery on her second hip.
Elisabeth said: “I was in serious pain and had to move my bed downstairs. The NHS deemed it a routine operation and classed it as non-urgent, despite the fact I could barely walk. I used to walk most days along the river, but I had to stop due to my hip. This was the second hip that needed surgery and I had spent all my money on the first hip and was in serious debt.”
Elisabeth, who lives in a two-bedroom cottage, turned to equity release to recently pay for her hip surgery and pay off outstanding debt from her first hip operation just after Covid.
“If you’re in a situation where the NHS cannot prioritise for you and you’re in a great deal of pain and its effecting your life in all sorts of ways, equity release can get you the money you need and some extra for further medical problems,” added Elisabeth.
The NHS is currently facing the worst strike in NHS history, with junior doctors demanding a 35% pay rise. This is expected to have a knock-on effect for NHS waiting lists, so people should be prepared for the situation to get worse.
In March 2022, YouGov, the UK’s leading research group, found that 59% of workers across Britain are uninsured and would wait for NHS care as they cannot afford private healthcare.
Industrial action across England this week will see unprecedented disruption to health services. The NHS said appointments and operations would only be cancelled where unavoidable, and patients would be offered an alternative date as soon as possible. Subsequently, many people will struggle with even longer waiting times.
Jan said: “Many over 55s, who are more prone to having non urgent emergency procedures, are sometimes not aware of equity release as an option. It has proven to be a valuable solution to painful and financially stressful situations.”