BUPA is poised to buy Coventry based cash plan provider, Mercia Health Benefits, in a move which will also provide access to the valuable primary care market.
Head of public relations at BUPA, David Bryant, confirmed the provident association was close to signing the deal with Mercia Health Benefits and said an announcement would be made within the next few months.
The sale is rumoured to be worth around £llm, with DTI approval needed to secure the deal.
Bryant said: “Any purchase would be in line with BUPA’s move towards integrated healthcare. We plan to give our customers access to the widest possible range of products.”
Mercia has some 60,000 cash plan subscribers, many of whom live in the Coventry area. BUPA currently offers an existing range of cash plans, but is believed to be looking at updating these.
Mercia also operates a private “one-stop” clinic, offering primary healthcare services. These include dentistry, physiotherapy, osteopathy, optical and chiropractic treatment.
At present there are no private GPs in the clinic, but once the BUPA deal is completed, it is thought this will be under consideration. Many of the treatments are paid for by local employers.
As owner, BUPA would gain a toehold in the primary care market. This has already been shown to be a priority for rival Norwich Union Healthcare which has a stake in Medicentre, the chain of drop in private GP surgeries.
BUPA is currently a major player in the private hospitals market. Bryant refused to be drawn on BUPA’s plans to enter the primary care sector.