As Covid-19 took hold earlier this year, up to 90% of private hospitals’ beds, staff and equipment were effectively set aside to help the country deal with any massive demand caused by the pandemic. Housden Group has been following the fortunes of private patient units across the UK during this time, writing a regular column for the Independent Practitioner Today magazine. This month the column covered two London hospitals, the Royal Marsden and the Royal Free who appear to be bouncing back:
The Royal Marsden weathers Covid-19 storm
Although travel restrictions and fear of Coronavirus has stopped patients traveling from overseas into the UK, the specialist cancer hospital earned £22m from private patients in the April, May, June quarter, trust board papers reveal.
The Financial Times recently published annual accounts show that private patient income in 2019-20 was £132m, up 10.8% from £121m the previous year.
It is the highest in the NHS, comprising 19% of all English trusts’ private income and 36.3% of total trust revenues.
Although these recent results are below plan and 2019-20 levels by 33% (£11m), they represent a healthy relative performance given the wider declines in the central London private patient market.
Activity is beginning to recover with a £1.2m increase in revenue in June and early July referrals returning to January 2020 levels.
Shams Maladwala, managing director at The Royal Marsden Private Care, told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘Now that lockdown has eased, we’re pleased to see an increase in both NHS and private referrals, as it means more people are seeking help for signs and symptoms of cancer rather than waiting.
‘The Royal Marsden has become a Covid-protected hospital, enabling us to provide as much
treatment as possible in an environment where patients can feel safe.’
As we have previously reported, the trust continues to invest and new private facilities are due to open in Cavendish Square in 2021.
Support from Royal Free Trust hastens PPU re-opening
Hadley Wood Hospital (HWH) is a day surgery site located in Barnet, north London, and part of the Royal Free London Private Patients Unit. The private facility is used by over 100 consultants from the trust for insured, self-pay, and also NHS waiting list work.
Facilities at the ten-bed unit include two operating theatres, endoscopy, minor ops, six consulting rooms, and diagnostic imaging.
Robert Thornton, PPU Finance and Commercial Manager said: ‘The hospital has great support from the trust encouraging the PPU to restart our business and HWH re-opened for private patients in the second week of June.
‘In fact, our private business is now growing faster than it was before the pandemic.’
Prof George Hamilton, PPU medical director, said HWH implemented rigorous infection protection control measures and protocols, complying with NHS guidance to the highest level, and treated urgent NHS cancer two- week-wait patients throughout Covid-19 – even in the height of the pandemic.
The recently published 2019-20 annual accounts show that the trust earned £20.3m in private patient revenues last year.
Although this was down £2.4m and 12.3% on the previous year, the reduction is understood to be mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 in March.