Bupa Osteopaths
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012 08:33

Gareth Butler's Latest Information

THANK YOU

Before we give you an update on what’s been happening since we founded the site in early July, can we just say how amazed we are at the immense response we’ve had from both the profession & the patients? We owe you all a huge debt of gratitude for all your hard work & networking on this important issue. So thank you all so much…

There are five main areas where things have been progressing…

  1. “Resignation Day” & Beyond [link to title below]
  2. BOA & the Competition Commission [link to title below]
  3. Professional Regulator Gets Involved [link to title below]
  4. BUPA – Reassurance & Softening [link to title below]
  5. Private Patients Forum [link to title below]
  6. What Can You Do? [link to title below]

1. “Resignation Day” & Beyond

This website was launched only 10 days before “Resignation Day”, but in that time over 1,000 osteopaths had signed the petition & over 700 said that they were “resigning or declining” the new Network.

This was helped incalculably by the Sacral Musings osteopathic community website (www.sacralmusings.com) placing a link to SOOB on their home page and the BOA putting a link on their e-mail update to members.

Bupa have recently stated that 2,200 osteopaths have been invited to join their new Network. This means that, by “Resignation Day”, Bupa had received resignations from nearly a third of their recognised providers. This figure, over the ensuing weeks, has gradually increased to nearer 40% and the petition has been signed by over a quarter of the osteopathic profession in the UK.

2. BOA & the Competition Commission

Last year, a complaint was made to the Office of Fair Trading about private medical providers. It involved allegations of anti-competitive behaviour (i.e. a restrictive cartel pushing prices up). This has triggered an investigation by the Competition Commission (CC) into private healthcare.

Although the original complaint was about service providers (e.g. consultants & hospitals) the CC has widened its scope to examine unacceptable behaviour on the part of medical insurers, too. The British Osteopathic Association (BOA) has made an excellent submission about the situation to the CC investigation, which can be viewed here…

http://tinyurl.com/BOA-CompComm-Submission-July12

We support the BOA in encouraging both patients & practitioners to make submissions to the CC about how Bupa’s new Network limits patient choice, etc. Guidelines on how to do this can be found at…

http://tinyurl.com/BOA-vs-BupaCompComm-Info

…Once again, please make your voice heard.

We have also heard that the BOA is working on a web survey to collect detailed information about osteopaths’ opinions about the new Network. This will be an important source of information for any future negotiations with Bupa, so we strongly recommend all osteopaths to take part.

3. Professional Regulator Gets Involved

The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), the statutory body that regulates osteopaths in the UK, has a new set of Standards of Practice that will come into force at the beginning of September 2012. This is the professional code of conduct that UK osteopaths must follow, to do otherwise would be to run the risk of being struck off.

In some circumstances, it is possible that complying with the terms & conditions of the new Bupa Osteopaths Network could lead to an osteopath breeching this code. It is the clauses in the contract that permit Bupa to limit the treatment that osteopaths are allowed to give their patients. This could potentially prevent an osteopath from providing appropriate care or necessary treatment.

A more detailed account to the possible conflicts between the Bupa Network T&Cs and the Standards of Practice is available here…

http://tinyurl.com/SoP-vs-Contract

The GOsC is taking this issue very seriously and has recently met with Bupa to express their concerns. We look forward to the report of this meeting from the GOsC in the near future.

The full version of the new Standards of Practice can be found on the GOsC website…

http://www.osteopathy.org.uk/uploads/osteopathic_practice_standards_ozone.pdf

4. Bupa

Late in July, Bupa sent a standard reply to osteopaths who had written letters explaining their reasons for resigning. Although this letter was very reassuring in its tone, and represents a softening of Bupa’s bullish stance in previous negotiations, it fell well short of proposing any changes to the contract itself. The terms & conditions form part of a legally binding document and, if it is possible to misinterpret their meaning, any ambiguity suggests that the contract is not “fit for purpose”.

Although the letter from Bupa attempts to address two of the main concerns expressed by osteopaths – loss of professional autonomy & the huge increase in additional administrative work – it shows no intent to shift on the issue of fee capping and preventing patients from “topping up” if they wish.

You can find a copy of the letter to osteopaths from Bupa here…

http://tinyurl.com/Bupa-Reply-July12

And comments on this letter from an osteopath’s perspective here…

http://tinyurl.com/Comments-BupaLetter

5. Private Patients Forum

We have been made aware of this excellent website, which supports private patients in many different ways. One of their members has left a message on their “Comments from Patients” page, which seems to sum up the way many of our patients feel about the Bupa situation. You can view the comment at…

http://www.privatepatientsforum.org/comments-from-patients

You may even want to join in…

6. What Can You Do?

Osteopaths

  • Send a submission on Bupa’s behaviour to the Competition Commission
  • Fill in the BOA survey, even if you’re not a BOA member
  • Encourage patients to contact Bupa & get their corporate scheme administrator involved
  • Talk, the Bupa problem with your colleagues

Patients

  • Send a submission on Bupa’s behaviour to Competition Commission
  • Write or phone Bupa to let them know how unhappy you are about the situation
  • Let the person who runs your private medical scheme at work know about this problem
  • Talk, e-mail & use the social media to discuss with your friends who have private medical insurance – it may happen to them in the future
  • Have a look at the Private Patients Forum website – you may want to join in…
Last modified on Sunday, 21 October 2012 04:46