Laing and Buisson Annual Acute Healthcare Conference September 2003…

The Annual Laing & Buisson Conference followed its traditional pattern with presentations by the Health Minister (John Hutton MP) and others from the NHS and Independent Healthcare sector.

Clare Hollingsworth, Managing Director of BUPA Insurance Hospitals, discussed briefly the possibility of BUPA Insurance employing non-consultant grade of doctors. This point was not amplified and subsequently it was stated that these plans are not yet formulated.

Dr David Costain, Chief Medical Officer of AXA PPP, caused some reaction when he stated that in the USA some 15% of medical charges presented to the insurance companies by doctors were fraudulent. Whilst he had no precise information about UK practice and gave just anecdotal reports there was the implication of a similar problem in the UK.

Mr Geoffrey Glazer, the Chairman of FIPO and the London Consultants’ Association, spoke on behalf of the profession and, amongst other things, refuted the PPP claim. He accepted that there may be some individuals who were abusing the system. However, he noted that the PPP stance was not mirrored by some of the other insurers with whom FIPO had held meetings and that there had been a general satisfaction expressed by these insurers about consultant charging and fee levels. Mr Glazer reiterated the fact that consultant fee levels had been largely pegged for the last decade in the face of increasing practice expenses and could not be sustained in some practices. He also said that the increasing administrative load being place on consultants by some insurers could lead to extra charges being levied.

In his presentation, the Chairman of FIPO also alluded to the failures of Managed Care in the USA and the rising costs of private medical insurance, particularly for the personal subscriber. Faced with the pressures of medical advances and increased utilisation there would seem to be only one solution, increased patient co-payments.