A plan aimed at covering professional footballers has been developed by independent healthcare consultants, Healthfirst (UK).
The FA Premier League Medical Care Scheme will be available from the start of the 1988/99 season and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the FA Premier League.
It is available to all players in the premier and football league. Croydon-based Healthfirst will act as administrators and claims managers for the scheme. Director of marketing and product development, Keith Phillips, said the aim is to provide physical, physiological and psychiatric support for players.
He said Healthfirst was in the process of developing “the most comprehensive healthcare networks dedicated to the professional sportsperson.”
The scheme incorporates the managed care principles of pre-authorisation and pre-negotiation through a recognised preferred provider network while catering for complete clinical freedom as determined by club clinicians, said Phillips.
The plan’s tailored benefits supply cover for injuries occurring through overuse, insidious onset and trauma. It has been designed in conjunction with the FA’s head of medical education.
The holistic approach of the self-funded trust based scheme means it goes beyond the remit of simply picking up costs for an injured sportsperson.
Part of the development of the preferred provider network is the use of preventative and interventionist medicine, including orthopaedic screening programmes.
Phillips is confident that sports injury care and rehabilitation is a growing market.
“But with the ever increasing commercial and litigious pressures facing professional sport, the need to ensure the best possible care is delivered within the most appropriate timescales is paramount.
“The introduction of The FA Premier League Medical Care Scheme aims to provide the model through which this care can be delivered,” he said.
Healthfirst is about to embark on a marketing campaign to raise the scheme’s profile. And while football is the initial sport to be targeted to the scheme, Phillips said the concept could be adapted to other sports.