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People buying health insurance in the UK are getting younger according to new data

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The average age of a policy holder is down by 20% in the past year

The average age of those investing in private medical insurance (PMI) via comparison site GoCompare has gone down from 40 to 33 in the past year.

It means those buying policies between January and September 2021 were 20% younger than those who purchased private healthcare in the same timeframe in 2020.

Richard Jones, of GoCompare health insurance, said: “Perceptions around private medical insurance were already changing, but there has certainly been a noticeable shift in the way people are actively investing in healthcare since Covid-19 arrived in the UK.

“It has been well documented that waiting times for public health services have been significantly affected by the pandemic, as well as an increase in A&E admissions as a result of people having to wait longer for treatment.”

“Conversely, on the ground we are seeing a new generation of consumer coming to the market who are more inclined to include private health insurance in their monthly outgoings,” Richard added.

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Waiting times for planned hospital procedures through public services now reportedly range from 30 weeks to over a year in some areas as NHS medics continue working to clear the back log created by Covid 19.

Patients are meanwhile reporting the use of loans, savings and, in some cases, crowd funding campaigns to have procedures carried out here in the UK or overseas in lieu of having private medical insurance in place.

Taking out a private medical insurance policy can help cover the cost of private treatment for pre-agreed conditions through the payment of a monthly or annual premium, and can support a quicker diagnosis and other routine treatments.

Richard said: “Healthcare insurance has always been available for consumers in the UK to access a range of healthcare and treatment options outside of those provided by the NHS, and many families will already have been making full use of their policies throughout the pandemic.

“But for others less familiar with how private healthcare works, what it actually covers and how premiums are calculated, investing in a private medical insurance policy could feel like a bit of a minefield, not least in the current climate.

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“It’s important to remember, for example, that for chronic conditions and pre-existing conditions, or in emergency situations, there will always be a need to access public health services even if you are considering taking out a private policy,” Richard added.

“It’s our responsibility as those working within the industry to help these consumers navigate their way around the kind of cover options available, what each policy offers and help them to understand what is and isn’t covered by health insurance generally, therefore, as greater numbers look towards private health insurance to support them and their loved ones at the present time.”

Private medical insurance can be provided for on an individual, family, joint or international basis, and is also offered by some employers as an added benefit too.

Conditions covered within a policy will vary depending on the kind of cover provided for, but might typically include in-patient treatments like routine health checks, tests, overnight hospital stays, out-patient treatment and more.

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Health

Health board warning flu cases leading to hospital admissions in Swansea Bay

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woman lying on bed while blowing her nose

The flu virus is already circulating and has led to people being hospitalised according to Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid.

Dr Reid said the cases, although small in number, should be a timely reminder that everyone eligible for a free flu vaccination should take up the offer.

Dr Keith Reid

“Flu was non-existent in autumn and winter 2020 as lockdowns, mask wearing and increased hand hygiene stopped it and other winter bugs from spreading from person to person,” he said.

“But we have been expecting to see flu come back this year and potentially at levels up to twice as high as a normal flu season.

“People were simply not exposed to flu and other seasonal viruses last year, so the level of immunity in the community is likely to have dropped and people will be susceptible.

“Plus we are all mixing far more now and, with the bad weather coming, we are all going to be heading indoors which will give flu and other bugs the ideal opportunity to spread.”

Flu can be fatal and research has shown that those infected with both flu and Covid are more than twice as likely to die as someone with Covid alone.

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Dr Reid said: “This will be the first winter when we will have significant levels of flu and Covid circulating at the same time, so I must urge everyone, if they are eligible for a free flu vaccination, to take up the offer as soon as possible.

“While no vaccine can offer 100% protection, the flu vaccine remains our best defence against this nasty virus.

“And remember, if you haven’t yet had your first Covid vaccination you can still do so.”

(Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)

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Armed Forces

Military to support Welsh Ambulance Service from today

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The Armed Forces will begin to support the Welsh Ambulance Service from today.

Fifty troops from 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corp will drive ambulances across Wales from Tuesday having undergone training at Newport’s Raglan Barracks on the weekend.

They will be joined in the next week by a further 50 personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

A 29-strong team of supporting personnel will make a total of 129 soldiers, sailors and airmen supporting the Trust until the end of November.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “We’re proud and grateful to have the military working alongside us once again, who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously last year.

“Having our Armed Forces colleagues back on board will help us put more ambulances on duty so we can get to more patients, more quickly, while the extreme pressure continues.

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“Essentially, they’ll work with one of our clinicians on an emergency ambulance responding to the full range of emergency calls.

“The winter period is our busiest time, and having military support will bolster our capacity and put us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.”

Major Alex Wilson, Officer Commanding 60 Close Support Squadron, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, said: “Over the weekend we spent time training with the paramedics and emergency medical technicians to familiarise ourselves with the ambulances, equipment and processes to make sure we can assist in the best way we can.

“The soldiers are ready to begin the task we have been deployed to do in Wales.

“It’s a privilege to be working with our Welsh Ambulance Service colleagues in supporting the NHS in Wales to ease the pressures that currently exist.”

It is the third time that the military have supported the service through the pandemic as part of the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) arrangement.

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More than 200 British Army soldiers have already assisted the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.

Among them were 90 soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who were enlisted on Christmas Eve at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

More broadly, more than 20,000 military personnel have been supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of a ‘COVID Support Force.’

(All images: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)

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Charity

Kidney charity continues team expansion with three new appointments

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Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, continues to see further expansion of its team with three new appointments, following a steep increase in demand for its support services.

Among the two new roles are children and youth support coordinator, and support service coordinator, as well as an internal move.

New children and youth support coordinator, Nikkila Thomas, will be responsible for providing support to children and young people suffering with kidney disease and their families. Part of the role is to engage with key stakeholders in order to develop transition programs, an educational program relating to younger service users moving into adult services.

Additionally, the children and youth support role focuses on developing current services, that will inevitably improve the quality of life of the charity’s beneficiaries. Thomas will be responsible for coordinating activity competitions and fundraisers and regularly producing a KIDS Newsletter, which offers children and families updates and activities.

Kidney support is close to Thomas’ heart because a family member was diagnosed with kidney disease. She found the Paul Popham Fund website when researching kidney disease, trying to find out more about the condition.

Speaking on her new role, children and youth support coordinator, Nikkila Thomas, said: “I am thrilled to start my post at the Paul Popham Fund. Being involved in promoting the charity’s vision in raising awareness and supporting the community is extremely rewarding, and I’m looking forward to developing and aiding the Children and Youth Services further.”

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The second new appointment is Corrine Bell, the new support service coordinator. Bell has had previous experience in the sector with the St. Johns Ambulance service as a divisional officer.
 

In her new role, Bell will be responsible for providing support and information to those suffering from kidney disease and their families, which is as important as ever as the charity sees increased demand for its services. Bell’s partner is a current transplant patient and has been on dialysis, so she is well aware of the effect the charity has.

Speaking on her new role, Corrine Bell, said: “I am eager to get started with Paul Popham Fund. I know about all the great things they do for the community as my partner is a volunteer, so I’m glad to be a part of such a great cause.”

Joanne Popham, CEO, said: “The organisation is extremely glad to welcome another two new team members. Our continued expansion shows a very promising future for the charity meaning we can help more and more people who are affected by kidney disease.”

The charity has also made an internal move: Anna Powell has moved from Children and Youth Engagement Officer to Volunteer Coordinator. In her new role, Powell is now heavily involved with management and recruitment of volunteers for the charity, while also training existing volunteers.

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With a background in recruitment, this role is perfectly suited to Powell, who will also be responsible for raising awareness in schools.

Anna Powell, Volunteer Coordinator at the Paul Popham Fund, said: “I am very eager to start my new role as Volunteer Coordinator, and get the chance to go to local schools and raise awareness of our ‘Believe in Yourself’ campaign, which has been at the forefront of the charity’s vision.

“Believe in Yourself originates from Paul Popham, who aimed to strive and succeed despite his diagnosis with kidney disease. Its use in school aims to resonate with students whether affected by kidney disease or not, to reinforce the notion of believing that you can do anything, even in the face of adversity.”

Additionally, Powell will also be involved in recruitment for the charity’s Kidney Cafe, fundraisers, ambassadors and peer mentoring service.

(Lead image (left to right): support service coordinator, Corrine Bell, children and youth support coordinator, Nikkila Thomas, and volunteer coordinator, Anna Powell.)

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