BUPA has refuted recent reports claiming the OFT is to investigate its partnership deal with hospital consultants, saying press coverage has been “misleading”.
BUPA operates a scheme offering consultants a five per cent bonus if they agree to send patients to a designated range of private hospitals.
A spokesman for the OFT said it had received a number of complaints from consultants opposed to the partnership and was investigating the scheme: “Our interest is whether the scheme is anticompetitive or works to the detriment of the consumer.”
BUPA’s head of public relations, David Bryant, stated the OFT had been kept informed of the consultant partnership from its inception and BUPA had ascertained the OFT was not holding a formal inquiry. But he conceded BUPA was keeping it up to date with any developments.
Bryant disagreed with Stephen Charkham, chief executive of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, who had said a lack of patient choice caused the objection to BUPA’s scheme: “Patients have a choice of 800 hospitals and 12,000 recognised consultants who carry out private work. If a member is treated by a consultant belonging to the partnership, we assure them costs will be met in full by us. In a minority of cases, consultants outside the scheme have charged over BUPA benefit levels and patients have picked up part of the bill.”