Private health sector maintains momentum in July

Published: Wednesday, 12 August 2020 09:00

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Activity levels in the private healthcare sector increased in July, passing an important milestone for the first time since the pandemic. According to Healthcode, insurer-funded healthcare reached 58% of 2019 activity levels in July, compared with 47% in June and only 29% in May as more patients were able to access the investigations and treatment they needed.

Healthcode the UK’s official clearing organisation for private medical bills has been monitoring data on behalf of the independent healthcare sector to track the recovery in activity levels after providers were given the green light to resume face-to-face consultations. It has now charted continued growth throughout the UK over the last three months with several regions now operating at two-thirds the percentage they realised in 2019. There has also been a positive trend in activity level across the top ten specialities although there remain variations in the rate of growth. 

Here are the headlines from Healthcode’s July analysis:

Countries and regions

  • In July 2020, England operated at 59% the level of 2019 while Scotland reached 44% and Wales 32%. By contrast the equivalent figures in June 2020 were 48% for England, 31% for Scotland and 20% in Wales. Northern Ireland bounced back strongly in July with activity of 82% compared with 2019, up from 51% in June.
  • Regionally, private providers in the West Midlands achieved an activity level of 65% of 2019 in July, matching the figure for June. This July level was equalled by London which advanced from 55% in June, while the East Midlands and North West were close behind (63%). The remaining English regions have rallied to over 50% of their 2019 activity level with the exception of Yorkshire and Humber which started from the lowest base in May (17%) and reached 45% in July.

Hospital specialties

  • Oncology fell back slightly to 83% in July after hitting the heights of 99% last month. However, there was a positive trend in all the other top ten specialities since May.
  • All but three of the top ten specialities passed 50% of 2019 activity levels in July. The exceptions were Orthopaedics & Trauma (49%), ENT (41%) and physiotherapy (29%) but this is still an advance on June when the equivalent levels were 25%, 19% and 23% respectively.


Care setting

  • Hospital activity now stands at 56% of 2019 levels, compared with 40% in June and just 23% in May. Within hospital settings, outpatient activity continued its strong recovery, rebounding to 58% of expected level in July compared with 42% in June.
  • As we predicted in last month, admitted care is now gaining ground on its 2019 activity level, reaching 46% in July compared with 32% in June and 21% in May.


Peter Connor, Healthcode Managing Director, commented: “The positive trend in insured activity is reason to be optimistic that the private healthcare sector recovery will build momentum over this quarter after hitting the key halfway point. Millions of tests and routine procedures were cancelled nationally because of the pandemic and there is now a backlog of patients needing to be seen. A strong private sector has a vital role to play in delivering care to insured and self-funded patients and provides a safety valve for the NHS when capacity is under strain.”