LCA recruitment drive to quell insurers’ power

Dr Mark Vanderpump

A message from the London Consultants’ Association (LCA) chairman Dr Mark Vanderpump as he aims to boost membership of newly appointed consultants, offering a free year’s membership, access to appraisal, medico-legal work training and mentoring from senior members. 

Over the last year, the LCA has reported via Independent Practitioner Today the significant concerns of its members at the three stages of a consultant career: in the first five years when newly appointed, during the next 15 to 20 years during peak activity and finally towards the end of their career. 

At all stages, there have been frustrations with the significant increased costs, financial and administrative, of private practice with fees having remained static for many years. 

An important issue common to all is the attitude of private medical insurers to consultants. Those newly appointed are forced to agree to low professional fees in order to be ‘listed’. 

More established consultants are being delisted for refusing to accept the significantly reduced fees. There is a lack of clarity regarding which consultants are being selected for patients who book via the open private medical insurance referral pathways. 

There is overt limitation of patient choice, which does not appear to have been within the remit or concern of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

An alternative salaried model, although attractive to some specialties, may also prove restricting in the long term with a loss of the professional independence that is one of the key attractions of private practice.

Expertise under-valued

The pandemic induced closure of private hospitals and clinics has increased the general mood that the consultant body feels their expertise is under-valued. 

Much of the profit from private practice flows from consultant choice by patients, not by choice of the institution. The LCA feels that the consultant body has not appreciated the power of their position, including where to admit patients and the choice of where to perform investigations.

We aim to help consultants in all phases of their private practice, which most importantly includes younger consultants with support through the difficult early phase of setting up a private practice.  

A key aim is to boost membership of newly appointed consultants with a free year of membership and access to appraisal and medico-legal work, training as well as access to senior members providing mentorship. 

Mission statement

‘The London Consultants’ Association was formed in 1998 and comprises leading consultants within and outside the capital who work in a variety of private hospitals. 

‘The LCA recognises that the changing private healthcare landscape in London, and elsewhere, and changing patterns of employment and increasing regulatory requirements mean that now, more than ever, experienced consultants and those new to private practice require support and mentoring to maintain and develop their practices. 

The LCA is committed to ensure continued independence of clinical decision making for consultants’ professional integrity for the benefit of patients. It aims to support consultants in the private sector through mentorship in clinical and business matters.’