Demand for private GP services has surged by 156% since 2019

With the number of NHS GPs in practice in decline and amid a shortage of first-line doctors, people are increasingly turning to the private sector for help, our research shows.

As seen in:
As seen in

The future of general practice report (11th October 2022)

A recent Health and Social Care Committee report laid bare the challenges NHS GPs and patients face.

From the report:

"GPs are leaving almost as fast as they can be recruited, and patients are increasingly dissatisfied with the level of access they receive."

"The root cause of this is straightforward: there are not enough GPs to meet the ever-increasing demands on the service."

"In May this year, there were an estimated 27.5 million appointments in general practice, more than two million more than in 2019. Yet over the same period, the number of qualified, full-time equivalent GPs working in the NHS has declined by nearly 500."

"Alongside worsening access to care, the decline of continuity of care in general practice is one of the most concerning impacts of the pressure on general practice."

Source: The future of general practice - 11th October 2022

It'd be fair to say that heading into winter; it's looking bleak for NHS GPs and their patients.

Patients waiting for treatment at NHS GP surgery

Internet searches for private GP services (2019 vs 2022)

In October 2022, we analysed how frequently terms relating to private GP services were used to start a Google search in the UK. We looked at data for the average monthly searches for every month between September 2019 and 2022.

Initially, we looked at the UK as a whole, breaking the research into the four home nations. However, with overall search activity being far higher in England than in the rest of the UK, we decided to also break down the English results by county.

Overall we found that searches for private GPs in the UK increased by a significant 156% between September 2019 and 2022 (21,170 vs 54,160 per month.)

Increase in private GP searches Sept 2019-2022 by nation:

  • England - 151%
  • Scotland - 203%
  • Wales - 166%
  • Northern Ireland - 382%
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Demand for private GP services in England

Further to our overall research, and given that search volumes for private GP services are significantly higher in England than elsewhere, we looked at how search activity has changed in each English region and county.

Increase in demand by region

English counties with the sharpest rise in internet searches for private GPs:

The 10 counties with the biggest increase in demand:

  1. Nottinghamshire - 308%
  2. Lincolnshire - 265%
  3. Devon - 210%
  4. East Sussex - 210%
  5. Cornwall - 200%
  6. Merseyside - 196%
  7. Yorkshire - 192%
  8. Wiltshire - 190%
  9. Worcestershire - 185%
  10. Bedfordshire - 180%
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Private GP services and health insurance

Most leading health insurers now have access to round-the-clock "virtual GP" services. Typically appointments are held online or on the phone, with face-to-face private consultations only being available on higher-end policies. The benefit of a virtual GP is that you can speak to them at any time, which to many, who are used to waiting for an appointment, will come as a welcome benefit. Click here if you'd like to know more abouthealth insurance and virtual GPs.

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About myTribe Insurance

myTribe is a consumer information website specialising in private healthcare and insurance. The site gives anyone looking at private healthcare in the UK the information they need through independent research, guides, and expert reviews.

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Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

Chris Steele
Cert CII (F1, IF7 & I10)
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert and has over a decade's experience writing for and about private medical insurance and private treatment. He's a Cert CII qualified member of The Chartered Insurance Institute and his research and work are often cited in the press. Chris is also contributing writer to numerous other financial services publications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a private GP?

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A private GP is a fully qualified medical doctor; however, unlike an NHS GP, you pay a fee to see them.

What are the benefits of seeing a private GP?

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You'll typically be seen faster and given more time during your appointment.

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