Income down but potential remains

Our monthly analysis of how private patient units are faring turns its attention to the 17 NHS trusts delivering acute care services to the south-west counties of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire. Philip Housden reports.

Regional total private patient revenues in the South-west fell significantly last year after a static period of three years. Total revenues are estimated at £28.5m, down from £31m the year before. 

The decline masks a wide range of individual trust performance (see Figure 1 above) and represents 0.53% of these trusts’ total revenues, down from 0.61% last year. 

The combined national average outside of London is 0.5%.   

Updated accounts for 2018-19 were available for all but three trusts at the time of writing – Great Western, Weston Area and Royal United Hospital Bath – for which 2017-18 data has been used.

The two trusts that have revenues above £3m a year – Great Western, Swindon, and United Hospitals Plymouth – deliver private patient services through contrasting approaches.  

Great Western operates a 20-bed dedicated PPU, branded Shal­bourne Private Health Care. During the past year, changes of management and some weakening of ring-fencing of private bed capacity are expected to have impacted on revenues which were £3.4m in 2017-18.  

At Plymouth, the trust grew private patient revenues by £274,000 (9.6%), 0.61% of turnover, without re-opening its previous ring-fenced capacity, The Meavy Clinic.  

Offering specialist regional services, the trust catchment is for complex activity, a market opportunity which may drive further growth.