Market woes at Capita and in private healthcare

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The News from Nowhere team pick up on some Capita woes, with some eye catching personnel moves, and hear of some interesting re-positioning of the private healthcare market incentivising private patients to have their care delivered in the public sector.

Turn around at ‘Capita’?

Many support services for General Practice, including payments to practices, enrolling new medical staff, providing necessary official documents (like sickness certificates), moving records between practices, registering new patients and managing staff pension arrangements, were centralised and out-sourced in 2015 to the commercial company ‘Capita’, in a £330 million NHS contract.

Rebecca Thomas at the Health Services Journal has unearthed a story of commercial failure HSJ October 13. Complaints about ‘Capita’s performance were made by the BMA, and triggered a remedial intervention by NHS England, including embedding what sounds like a NHS turn-around team in ‘Capita’, with daily reviews of performance. Ironically, the person at NHS England who ran these primary care support services before they were out-sourced to ‘Capita’, Jill Matthews, has been made a ‘stakeholder director’ in ‘’Capita’ whilst two senior members of Capita have been removed from managing the contract.

Squeezed out

Elsewhere in the marketplace the chief executive of the UK’s largest independent hospital group called on private hospitals and medical insurers to work closer together to improve the value of the private healthcare offering and to ensure it meets people’s needs. Speaking at the LaingBuisson, Private Acute Healthcare Conference on 12th October 2016, to an audience of investors, directors, finance executives, insurers and hospital operators, Jill Watts urged hospital operators and insurers to seek ways to add real value to insured patients and to relieve the pressures on the NHS.

Noting that the take-up of private health insurance has been in decline since 2008, with levels only recently stabilising, Jill Watts said:

“We’ve heard time and again from insurers that private hospitals need to be more affordable in order to reinvigorate the market. But price is not the issue – the issue is how we can attract more people back into private healthcare and offer a broader range of services which will put more balance into the overall system.

“More and more, we are seeing narrower insurance products with exclusion clauses emerge. And we continue to see them give incentives for private patients to have their care delivered in the public sector. This just devalues the insurance product and puts additional pressure on the NHS. The reality is that even if you do have access to top level private insurance you are still likely to have to rely on the public sector at some stage to meet your overall health needs.

“Unlike other countries where private hospitals play a much larger role in the delivery of the nation’s healthcare, the UK private sector has traditionally had a  limited offering mainly focused around elective surgical procedures. The range of services offered does not really match the growing demand for healthcare in the UK.

“As the pressure on the overall system builds and waiting lists in the NHS grow, we are seeing an increasing number of people that are prepared to pay for their own care. Certainly a core part of our strategy at BMI Healthcare is our investment in broadening the range of services that we offer, particularly in our flagship sites where we have the capability to offer a much broader range of services outside of the traditional surgical model.

“It is pleasing that insurers and hospitals are starting to work closer together to be more assertive in actively influencing the shape of our future. As an industry, we do need to take a more strategic approach to finding ways to alleviate pressure away from the NHS.

“The private sector has a lot to offer the overall system and we have a long track record of delivering excellent patient outcomes and high levels of patient satisfaction in a cost effective way. We need to take a more active role in positioning ourselves to governments as supporting and complementing the NHS to reduce the overall pressure on the system, not in competition with it.”

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