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Sale of out of hours care company for £48m brings GPs big profits

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7741 (Published 13 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7741
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. 1BMJ

The private healthcare company Care UK has acquired the United Kingdom’s largest provider of GP out of hours services, Harmoni, in a £48m (€60m; $76m) deal that gives the company a firm grip on the provision of unscheduled care in the NHS.

The deal adds to Care UK’s substantial existing portfolio of primary care, diagnostic, and elective care services and means that the company will now be providing unscheduled care to more than 15 million patients across England.

In addition to Harmoni’s network of existing out of hours contracts, the company has recently been awarded a string of contracts to run new NHS 111 services for non-emergency urgent care and also holds contracts to run general practices, walk-in centres, and referral management systems.

Initially set up as a GP cooperative in 1996 in northwest London, Harmoni rapidly expanded with the help of the private equity group ECI, which owned 41% of the company, and could receive around £20m as part of the deal.

Its five GP directors, the co-founders David Lloyd and Nizar Merali and also Ian Goodman, Adrian Richardson, and Thomas Davies, are set to receive substantial financial windfalls from the sale of the company.

Lloyd said that more than 470 GPs and many employees of the company who owned smaller shares in the company were also in line to gain financially. In total, GPs, including the five GP directors, owned 49% of the company, with management owning 10%.

“We are all very confident that services will continue to flourish under the new owners,” he said.

Mike Parish, Care UK’s chief executive, said, “Bringing Harmoni into Care UK’s healthcare organisation will help us to help commissioners within the NHS make the most effective use of their resources, making sure that unscheduled treatment, including out of hours needs, takes place in the most appropriate setting.

“Harmoni is busy mobilising its new NHS 111 call services, which enable patients to use a single, simple contact point to access unscheduled care and which will allow us as a partner within the NHS to direct those patients to the right local service, which is often not an acute service.”

Edmund Jahn, Harmoni’s managing director, said that the deal “gives all our services a strong and sustainable platform for the future as we work within Care UK to support the NHS.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7741