Written by former Bupa Global and UK CEO, David Hynam
We recognise the exceptional circumstances that we’re all facing as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The nation is in an unprecedented situation, health services across the country are under tremendous pressure and many families, individuals and businesses are facing great uncertainty.
Bupa is in a position to help and we are here to play our part. We are redirecting resources and people to support the NHS and other public health bodies wherever we can during this difficult time.
We fully support the announcement that independent hospital providers will work in partnership with NHS England to help respond to COVID-19. Tackling this disease is everyone’s priority and we welcome the commitment of independent hospitals, including our own Bupa Cromwell Hospital in London, which is already accepting patients from local NHS trusts to create bed capacity in the NHS. We have also accelerated the commissioning of our new Acute Intensive Care Unit at the Cromwell which provides much needed ICU capacity for more severely affected patients.
Support from across Bupa
Across our network of health clinics, we are rapidly working through how we can offer GP services and other resources we have access to in order to support NHS 111 or other vital NHS services.
Similarly, across our 125 care homes we are closely connected to local authorities and local NHS trusts to ensure we can support the most vulnerable. Through Care England we are working actively across the aged care sector to simplify and ease processes to ensure beds are available in the right environments for those who need them most.
As a significant provider of both private and public NHS dentistry, we are working to ensure we continue to offer emergency dental services in order to keep patients away from hospitals so they can focus on treating those that truly need help.
Support and guidance for our UK insurance customers
We’re conscious that many people are now needing to stay at home or are understandably reluctant to go out to access healthcare. To help address this, we have a range of resources and channels open should our customers need support and guidance to help them stay in control of their health and wellbeing from their home.
- Remote consultations: We will fund telephone and video consultations with all Bupa recognised consultants, where they are medically appropriate and the technology is available, to help patients avoid exposure to the virus. This service includes remote consultations with an accredited physiotherapist for muscle, bone and joint conditions.
- See a GP from home: The majority of our customers have fast access to expert advice through our digital GP services in partnership with Babylon and we are extending this rapidly to all our customer base so everyone can use this service. Customers can also use the AI-driven symptom checker feature to check for symptoms for a full range of conditions – this has been updated to include COVID-19.
- Talk to a nurse 24/7 for general health and wellbeing advice: our customers can call our Anytime HealthLine.
- Support for family emotional wellbeing: parents and carers can call our Family Mental HealthLine where we have trained advisers and mental health nurses available to provide support.
- Extension of referrals: we’ve also extended the time that a GP and consultant referral is valid for ongoing treatment up to three months.
Mental health support
We know this will be a stressful time for people and that isolation may impact on overall mental wellbeing, as well as exacerbating underlying mental health conditions. We are expanding our capacity for mental health support – including remote consultations and on-line Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Customers can also access Bupa’s Direct Access service, removing the need for a GP appointment. Our Family Mental Healthline is open for parents and carers to talk to us about their child’s emotional wellbeing. The online Bupa Mental Health resource hub has a wide range of support materials and is being regularly updated with relevant content.
The COVID-19 situation is moving rapidly so we have launched a dedicated Bupa COVID-19 online hub. We will be posting regular updates including frequently asked questions as well as helpful content to help people manage their physical and emotional wellbeing during the crisis. We will use the hub to announce further initiatives over the coming weeks.
COVID-19 is a public health emergency which society needs to tackle together. We are responding and adapting as the situation evolves, closely following advice from the World Health Organisation, UK Government and Public Health England. We are absolutely committed to playing our part, rising to the challenges ahead and keeping our patients, residents, customers and people safe.