Patients’ anger at private hospital funding dispute

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PATIENTS with private health insurer Bupa have spoken of their anger at being prevented from seeing their usual consultant in a row over costs.

Bupa is in dispute with BMI hospitals, which runs Goring Hall Hospital in Bodiam Avenue, over a contract between the two groups, including a proposed price hike.

The insurer has removed 37 BMI hospitals from its recognised hospital list due to the ongoing dispute.

Janet Richards, 60, of Wallace Avenue, has agoraphobia and said having to use an alternative non-BMI private hospital in a different area is a real worry for her.

“I’ve been a Bupa member for more than 30 years and have been going to Goring Hall for at least 20,” she said.

“I’m used to the hospital, used to seeing the same consultants and they know about my medical history. To have to start over in an unfamiliar area would be very frightening for me.”

Her nearest non-BMI private hospital would be in Brighton or Chichester.

Janet has written to Bupa, which has said it is looking into her case.

She added: “Frankly, I am surprised that in the current economic climate, BMI and Bupa can afford to lose valuable business.”

Jean Kirk, of Walton Close, said she is also concerned about the changes.

“We were given very little notice that this was likely to happen. Bupa must have been aware that the situation might arise when they invited renewal of my subscription on November 1, last year. I renewed, believing that I would be able to use the services offered by Goring Hall. I, therefore, question whether there has been mis-selling?”

Another Bupa member, Tess McCormack, of Hillside Avenue, said: “I have written to Bupa expressing my concern, adding that I may have seriously to consider ending my membership.”

A Bupa spokeswoman said: “We will always aim to ensure our members have convenient access to high-quality affordable healthcare and we currently offer access to around 700 hospitals across the UK.

“There are 64 BMI hospitals and we have removed 37 of these from our recognised hospital lists, including the BMI Goring Hall Hospital.

“We have written to Bupa members who have been treated at the BMI Goring Hall Hospital in the last two years to reassure them that they can continue to access high-quality, good-value treatment at other nearby hospitals.”

Goring Hall patients can use their Bupa membership to access healthcare at Worthing Hospital Private Patient Unit, Nuffield Health Chichester Hospital, Royal Sussex County Hospital Private Patient Unit, Nuffield Health Brighton or Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.

A spokeswoman for BMI said: “Discussions between BMI Healthcare and Bupa are ongoing and we are making progress.”