Bupa announces new platinum consultant category

By Robin Stride

Around 11,000 consultants whose patients have a 28% shorter hospital stay on average than those treated by other Bupa-recognised consultants are being elevated by the insurer to a new category.

Bupa Platinum consultants – half the number of specialists the company works with – have also been rated ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ by 97% of their Bupa patients. 

The insurer said these consultants are covered by all Bupa policies and schemes and are fee-assured, so customers won’t have to pay additional fees or treatment charges. 

Bupa UK Insurance announced it was responding to company research showing 54% of people with health insurance would not know how to find the right consultant if they needed treatment. 

90% wanted their health insurer to help and 70% of consultants surveyed said insurers should help their customers find the most appropriate consultant for their needs.

Two new badges

Customers will, from June, be able to identify Bupa Platinum consultants and those in its Open Referral Network through two new badges appearing on Finder, the insurer’s free online directory of healthcare professionals and services.

James Sherwood

Bupa UK Insurance general manager of operations and healthcare management, James Sherwood, said:Increased use of digital technology has made accessing care easier for our customers, but there’s one area where they tell us that they still need help – and that’s navigating the sometimes complex healthcare system when they need treatment and care. 

‘Our new Bupa Platinum consultants category and enhancements to our online directory Finder will help customers find the right specialist for their needs, whatever policy or plan they have.’

Bupa said it was contacting all 22,000 consultants it worked with to let them know what is happening. 

Its Platinum consultants must have at least 20 Bupa patients start a clinical pathway with them in a three-year period and must be members of its open referral network and be fee-assured.

Asked if there were any concerns that shorter inpatient stays might have resulted in re-admissions, a spokesperson told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘We regularly review the care our customers receive, including re-admissions, and seek further information where there are anomalies, to ensure treatment and care is in line with medical best practice.’

Customers do not have to go to a Platinum consultant. They can choose to see any consultant who is covered by their policy or scheme.  

The spokesperson added: ‘Customers can choose to see any consultant who is covered by their policy or scheme. We’re not looking to reduce the number of consultants we work with.’

Feedback from both groups of consultants had been ‘positive’. 

Bupa Platinum consultants:

  • Are covered on all policies and schemes, including those with Open Referral policies or schemes;
  • Are fee assured, so won’t send customers extra bills for care covered by their policies or schemes;
  • Are rated good or excellent by 97% of their Bupa patients;
  • Offer care in line with medical best practice;
  • Manage the total cost of the care they deliver. 

Bupa-recognised consultants are those who have met Bupa’s standard criteria to treat customers:

Meeting its customer service criteria;

Meeting medical professional standards set by the GMC and relevant specialist bodies; 

Practising in line with the UK’s legal and regulatory requirements.