Private equity firm set to buy SE1 NHS GP surgery from US conglomerate

Control of the Falmouth Road Surgery could soon pass from a US corporation based in St Louis, Missouri to a UK private equity firm under proposals circulated by local NHS bosses.

Private equity firm set to buy SE1 NHS GP surgery from US conglomerate

In 2021 we reported on the sale of AT Medics - which runs a number of London NHS GP surgeries, including the Falmouth Road Surgery in SE1 - to the Centene Corporation of St Louis, Missouri.

The sale sparked concerns from the leader of Southwark Council who said he was 'deeply worried' about the takeover of local NHS services by a corporation based so far away.

More recently Centene has signalled its intention to get out of the UK health sector.

This week NHS South East London published a notice it had sent to local politicians about a potential takeover of AT Medics' parent firm Operose Health by HCRG Care Group (formerly Virgin Healthcare) which is owned by the Twenty20 private equity firm.

What NHS South East London is saying

"All GP practices work under contract to the NHS and whether owned by GPs or other organisations they must be able to meet strict standards and regulations that apply to all NHS providers," wrote NHS South East London.

"As previously, the contract will continue to be held by AT Medics Ltd and they will continue to be responsible for providing the primary care services. As part of our assurance process, we will be seeking assurance that patients will be able to continue to access the same services from the same locations as they do now."

The notice continues: "Under the terms of the APMS contract, before undergoing a change of control the contract holder must first obtain our consent.

"NHS South East London will carry out a due diligence process to check that the proposed new owner of Operose Health Ltd is of good standing. We will also seek assurance that the change of control would not affect service provision and that patients would not see any difference in their GP practice, so that patients will still access care in the same way and continue to see the same practice teams.

"When considering whether to consent to the change of control, we will assess the proposal carefully and consider whether it is necessary to seek any additional assurances.

"That decision will be made via the south east London Local Care Partnerships which will meet in public to take the decision. Members of the public will be able to attend and observe proceedings. We will publicise when the meeting occurs and interested members of the public will be able to submit comments and questions in advance of the meeting."

NHS South East London added: "Following the formal request for a change of control we will take steps to let AT Medics Ltd practice patients know about the change of control and answer the questions that they have. This will include a NHS South East London wide webinar."

What the surgery's likely future owners say

A spokesperson for HCRG Care Group said: “We have agreed with Centene a proposal to transfer ownership of Operose Health and AT Medics to our UK based health and care organisation. Our agreement specifically acknowledges the next step as a formal change of control process by local NHS commissioning organisations and we have been, and will continue to, engage constructively with this formal process to demonstrate the benefits to patients and commissioners. 

“We are committed to supporting Operose Health’s continued delivery of local high-quality NHS primary care and contractual responsibilities, which aligns with our track record of delivering for patients, communities and the NHS over the last 15 years.”  

Twenty20's founder and chairman Tristan Ramus is a non-executive director of Greenpeace.

Ramus's own CV on his LinkedIn page describes him as "one of the UK’s most progressive and respected entrepreneurs".

It continues: "His prescient flair for uncovering opportunities in fast-growing sectors like recruitment, healthcare and marketing has been recognised, not only by his fellow investors and partners throughout his stellar career of over 25 years, but also in peer review at major business awards..."

Tags: Health, Southwark, Business

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