By Robin Stride
Private doctors were urged today to think twice before accepting reduced fees for virtual consultations.
The advice came from the London Consultants Association (LCA), which expressed concern to learn that some private medical insurers (PMI) have proposed that consultants must accept a 50% reduction in re-imbursement for virtual consultations as a condition of continuing to care for their insured patients.
It said: ‘The LCA would urge all private consultants to consider this proposal carefully. Every consultant must decide their own fees based on their own specialty and economic circumstances.
‘There is the likelihood of increasing costs of indemnity cover and this, coupled with increased turnover times, will increase the costs to most consultants, so it is incomprehensible that any PMI would consider reducing re-imbursements at this very complex medical time.’
The LCA said it was available to support private doctors and was willing to work with all stakeholders to develop a strategy to restart the private healthcare market. ‘Please feel free to get in touch with us as we are here to help you’.
In a chilling warning, the LCA continued: ‘The pandemic has decimated private healthcare and without a co-operative and co-ordinated approach from all its components – hospital providers, private medical insurers and consultants – it is unlikely that it will ever recover.’
It said its survey published in the June issue of Independent Practitioner Today identified that many consultants feared that they would not be able to return to private practice for financial reasons.
‘During the recovery period, patient turnover will be markedly reduced. As patient confidence grows, it should be possible to return to greater normality with the restoration of face-to-face consultations, but clinics will initially be at reduced capacity and volume due to the recognised importance of infection-control measures.
‘Evidence from other private health markets emerging from the pandemic, such as Australia and the Asia, indicate that virtual clinics will continue for up to 50% of outpatient consultations for up to 12 months. Embracing telehealth and digital platform technology appears essential in re-invigorating the private health market.’