Speaking at the British Medical Association Private Practice Conference today, Bupa Health Funding managing director Dr Damien Marmion said fee cuts were essential to address the ‘excessive profits’ being made by hospitals.
Last month the Competition and Markets Authority stepped back from enforcing recommendations by its predecessor body, the Competition Commission, that would have required HCA and BMI to sell nine hospitals. Instead HCA is being forced to sell two hospitals and BMI none at all. HCA will be required to sell the London Bridge and Princess Grace hospitals or the Wellington hospital, including the Wellington Hospital Platinum Medical Centre. The CMA is not requiring any hospital sales outside central London.
Marmion said: “It (the CMA) has made it clear that hospitals have been making excessive profits at the expense of customers. It is an absolute priority of ours to address this – and to secure the agreement of current and future private hospital owners for significantly lower fees.
“Let me be very clear on this: where the CMA has found that a major hospital group has been charging rates that are excessive, Bupa will be seeking a significant reduction from them. The amount will vary by hospital group, but in some cases we will be aiming for a reduction of 15 per cent or more. We will use these reductions to give hard-pressed customers better value from private healthcare and to grow the market, for the benefit of all participants in the market.
“Any savings we make as a result of the Competition and Market Authority’s recommendations will be passed on to our customers to help attract more people into private healthcare. The proposed reforms will, however, take time to implement – even if they are not appealed, and I don’t think even the most enthusiastic advocate for them would hold that they are a panacea for the challenges facing our sector”