HCA Healthcare boss calls for concessions from watchdog to kick-start private practice

Private healthcare providers and industry bodies are being urged by HCA Healthcare UK chief executive John Reay to unite to help consultants kick-start their private practices back into business.

He hopes they can help win concessions from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to make it easier for independent practitioners to get back to work.

John Reay, HCA Healthcare UK’s chief executive

With consultants’ incomes badly hit during Covid-19, he said a key way of assisting them to get their practice up and running again would be to remove the requirement for them to pay fees for their private hospital rooms.

Mr Reay urged for as much as possible to be done to remove the barriers currently preventing private doctors from seeing private patients.

A major source of income for many consultants had disappeared, but in his hospitals there was now a definite and welcome move forward to expanding care to elective cases.

He told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘Ultimately, by helping consultants to get back to doing what they do best as soon as possible, we can help reduce the further impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s healthcare system – ensuring that patients can access safe care when they need to.’

See Mr Reay’s comments in full: 

‘Partnering with consultants to deliver independently funded care has always been at the core of what we do at HCA Healthcare UK.

‘We are proud of the support we have provided to the NHS to ensure that vital time-critical care has been able to go ahead during this time. Across our family of hospitals, we have performed over 1,000 procedures for both NHS and independently funded patients.

‘Prioritising this urgent care at the height of the pandemic was the right thing to do, but we know that, as a result of this, some patients with care needs outside those considered as urgent have been delayed. Many aspects of private practice have been paused and, as a result, so has a key source of income for many consultants.

‘There is now pent-up demand from both independently funded and NHS patients for that care.

‘While there are regional differences, there has been a definite and welcome move forward to expanding care to elective cases.

‘At HCA UK, we are now able to support this level of care in our London and Manchester hospitals and, aligned with this, we have started to re-open out outpatients centres to increase the capacity for referrals, diagnostics and imaging to feed onward care.

‘The expansion of care and access to this care is, no doubt, a significant step in kick-starting the healthcare system again, but we need to consider what we can do to more proactively support consultants to rebuild their private practice.

‘One way to do that is by removing any barriers that we reasonably can that are impeding a return to private practice. That’s why I want to call upon providers and industry bodies to unite in trying to drive some concessions from the CMA on the measures that add extra challenge to consultants, already stretched, to get their practice up and running again. Room fees are a prime example of this.

‘Ultimately, by helping consultants to get back to doing what they do best as soon as possible we can help reduce the further impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s healthcare system – ensuring that patients can access safe care when they need to.’