You’ve been at Bupa Health Services for five years and at Bupa Care Services for six years before that. How did your career path take you into the healthcare sector?
Before Bupa, I held several senior commercial and operational roles within the retail travel industry, including Operations Director for a national travel business, leading over 500 high street travel stores, and supporting services across the UK.
Both the travel and health sector are similar in so many ways as holidays and health are considered purchases which are very personal to the individual, and they are both people businesses – the success of the experience is determined by the person delivering the service. When I moved into healthcare, I felt a lot of my skills and experience were transferable. I always joke when you meet a friend in the pub, two subjects that always come up are holidays and health – I enjoy being able to talk about both!
I joined Bupa Care Services in 2013 and progressed to Regional Managing Director, overseeing the smooth running of up to 80 care homes. I then became Managing Director for Bupa Health Clinics before progressing to General Manager for Bupa Health Services in 2021.
What is your current job role and what does it involve?
As General Manager for Bupa Health Services, I am responsible for Bupa Health Clinics and our Cromwell Hospital.
We have 61 Bupa clinics and onsites (where we have a clinic in an office for employees from that organisation) across the UK that offer customers fast access to in-depth healthcare services. These include health assessments that offer a current picture of a patient’s health and wellbeing, our Bupa Menopause Plan and Period Plan, ear wax removal, sexual health checks and physiotherapy, as well as private GP appointments. We offer these services to customers seeking pay-per-appointment services. We also offer these services to business customers as part of their workplace employee benefits and operate a handful of Bupa clinics within selected client offices.
Cromwell Hospital is our one Bupa hospital, based in Kensington, central London. It has state-of-the-art facilities, with cutting-edge technology and medical professionals that deliver the highest level of care. It is also an integrated cancer campus that offers fast access from a cancer diagnosis to treatment, including advanced therapies and specialised follow-up care.
You started your role as General Manager, Health Services in April 2021, when the effects of Covid-19 were still being felt, particularly in the healthcare industry. What was it like at the time and how have things changed over the past couple of years?
The pandemic was a challenging time for us all and particularly for our incredibly hardworking patient-facing teams. We had to adapt quickly in a fast-changing environment as well as do all we could to keep our people safe.
It was really important to adapt our services for customers to access them remotely. In our Bupa clinics, we set up remote GP services and remote health assessments so people could still access our high-quality care and expert clinicians. We’ve continued this multi-channel approach – for example, our Menopause Plan is available remotely, as well as face-to-face.
The pandemic was a challenging time for us all and particularly for our incredibly hardworking patient-facing teams
At Cromwell Hospital, we remained busy throughout the pandemic as our hospital supported NHS services. We also launched our long Covid service, caring for patients experiencing long-term symptoms of Covid-19. In the past two years, it’s been good to see our patient numbers exceed pre-pandemic levels and international patients return to the UK for treatment. In this time the Cromwell has become a specialist centre for breast, bowel, and prostate cancer; launched a lung cancer service; and we’re pleased that it’s also become an international centre for endometriosis.
We have also opened a new urgent care centre for patients with non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses which need immediate treatment. The service is led by specially trained emergency medicine consultants, who, where necessary, will be able to refer patients to specialists within the hospital for ongoing care and treatment.
Bupa UK is currently developing digital healthcare. What services are you hoping to offer and how will they benefit your customers?
Remote services allow us to offer our services to more customers. In our Bupa clinics, we already offer remote GP appointments and remote health assessments, and the Menopause Plan can be accessed remotely.
We run Anytime HealthLine, PhysioLine and mental health phone lines to offer instant access to healthcare professionals. The Anytime HealthLine is nurse-led and available 24/7, 365 days a year, [offering] support for a range of concerns. PhysioLine offers speedy triage, quickly arranging the most suitable treatment or self-care, either remote or face-to-face with a healthcare professional.
At Cromwell Hospital, we’ve partnered with Vinehealth, giving cancer patients access to the Vinehealth app, which easily tracks their symptoms, medication and the lifestyle factors that could impact their condition. By registering their symptoms daily, oncologists and nurses at Cromwell Hospital can view a dashboard that shows real-time patient health between appointments and enables them to quickly get in touch should an intervention be needed. This innovative digital technology delivers high-quality, personalised care that empowers cancer patients to self-manage their condition, feel more in control, and feel more connected to their cancer care team throughout their treatment.
At Cromwell Hospital, we’ve partnered with Vinehealth, giving cancer patients access to the Vinehealth app, which easily tracks their symptoms, medication and the lifestyle factors that could impact their condition
We’ve also just launched a new partnership with eXpanded eXistence (eXeX), in collaboration with Complex Spine London surgeons. The partnership brings the latest in artificial intelligence (AI) and mixed reality (MR) technology to operating theatres to optimise surgical procedures. Their software helps surgical assistants in a variety of ways, such as tracking consumables that go in and out of the patient and [enabling them to] see every step of the procedure ahead of time. The MR hardware also shows what’s needed in real time, so they can visualise it in the exact position it is needed and put the tools down in the right place for surgery. This means they can check what they need without having to break the sterile field or ask someone.
What’s coming up in the future?
We’re committed to keep innovating our services to provide world-class treatment for our patients and meet their changing health needs.
This year, we’ve opened six new Bupa clinics and have plans to expand further, meaning we can reach more people with our healthcare services. We’re also continually building our insurance and clinic pathways for conditions like musculoskeletal, mental health and cancer, to give customers a seamless Bupa journey from diagnosis to treatment. Our focus on women’s health, men’s health and weight management continues to support our customers with all aspects of their health.
We’ve just announced an expansion of Cromwell Hospital to create spacious outpatient facilities, state-of-the art radiology and therapies departments, a new theatre, and further MRI and diagnostic services, improving patient access and experience and giving better facilities for our staff. As a result, 95 per cent of the hospital’s facilities will have been refreshed or redeveloped in the last six years and will help us to attract more specialist consultants to the hospital to offer innovative treatments to our patients.