Private patients hit out as Bupa drops hospitals amid costs row

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Patients with private health insurer Bupa have reacted angrily after being prevented from seeing their usual consultant in a row over costs.

Bupa is in dispute with BMI hospitals over a contract between the two groups, including a proposed price hike.

Yesterday a patient accused Bupa of leaving her “high and dry” and “moving the goalposts” by preventing her from having continuity of care.

The 64-year-old breast cancer patient, who has been seeing the same consultant for two years, said she had no idea what will happen if she needs further surgery.

She said it was a “scandal” that Bupa had not informed all its customers of potential changes to their care.

In an update on its website just before Christmas, Bupa said it had removed 37 BMI hospitals from its recognised hospital list due to the ongoing dispute.

The firm said it had rejected an offer from BMI because “it includes conditions that we believe are unacceptable and, based on a similar number of Bupa patients using their 64 hospitals as in 2011, it still means that BMI’s prices are over 20 per cent more expensive than at least one other national hospital group”.

The statement said offers from BMI did not “represent good value for our members”.

The breast cancer patient, who spoke on condition of anonymity, believes she has been badly treated by Bupa.

When she phoned up her local BMI hospital in Greater Manchester to book a mammogram she was told this was not possible due to the dispute.

After calling Bupa to complain, she said she was able to “bamboozle” somebody into getting the mammogram booked.

“But I was told that if I needed surgery or something following that, I would not be able to have that at a BMI hospital,” she said.

She said she has received no formal correspondence from Bupa.

“Bupa have moved the goalposts. Part of what you pay for is reassurance and continuity but we have been left high and dry. My story will be replicated around the country. It’s very distressing.”

Don Grocott, executive director of the Private Patients’ Forum, said the group was aware of situation, which was worrying some patients.