GPs are "more likely" to instigate discussions around private healthcare options with patients than a year ago, a survey claims.
Research estimates up to 750,000 NHS patients are not referred for further treatment after 70% of GPs said they were prevented from referring patients "at least once a month".
It is said the South East Coast region had the highest numbers of GPs unable to refer with 86% and those in Scotland recorded the lowest figure with 42%.
The survey, commissioned by private healthcare provider BMI Healthcare, found one in four (24%) GPs said they are more likely to instigate discussions about private healthcare options with their patients than they were 12 months ago.
A third of GPs also said they had already seen an increase in patients asking about paying for care outside of the NHS.
More than two-thirds (65%) of GPs believe patients are considering paying for private healthcare as they are "generally less willing to wait for treatment", 59% think it is because they are no longer eligible for the procedure under the NHS criteria, and 56% believe it is down to NHS waiting lists getting longer.
"As the survey shows, there are a number of reasons for GPs discussing with their patients options for accessing healthcare outside of the NHS," said Mark Ferreira, Medical Development Director from BMI Healthcare.
"GPs need to be aware of any restrictions or criteria in place for specific treatments and options for care."