Bupa’s response to COVID-19

Published by Evelyn Bourke
Group CEO

22 March 2020 . International

The spread of COVID-19 is hugely concerning for people, governments and organisations everywhere. It is a time of significant worry and sadness for those directly affected, and a time of high anxiety for us all.

Evelyn Bourke

COVID-19 poses a public challenge of unprecedented scale and significance for society. It is a public health emergency which we must all tackle together with new forms of collaboration and partnership.

Bupa is acting to play our part.

Across Bupa we have a simple, single-minded mantra: focus on the welfare of people.

It is my top priority and the top priority of the Bupa Board, Executive Team and, indeed, everyone working at Bupa. We are mobilised right across the organisation.

While COVID-19 is a global pandemic, its impacts are highly localised and specific to the public situation and particular health systems of each and every country. Bupa also has differing services, capabilities and ‘footprints’ in particular countries. However, there are some common examples of the actions we are taking:

  • Where we have hospitals or clinics, we are part of the public health efforts to test and care for patients with COVID-19 and to treat medical emergencies
  • Where we have aged care villages and homes, we are supporting and caring for residents and their loved ones
  • For those with health insurance, we are providing information and support, and responding to their needs
  • Where supplies of medical and protective equipment (such as masks, gloves and gowns) are in short supply, we are working with governments to help address shortages and get things to the places of greatest need
  • Where our people can put their skills to work in different ways, we are helping them do so with a particular focus on extending our clinical and customer service capabilities
  • We are engaging with local and national charity partners to support their work in the wider community, including through our existing charitable Foundations

The welfare of the people we employ is a top concern. Most of the people Bupa employs are clinicians and care providers and we also partner with many thousands more across the health and care systems. Across the world, health and care workers are at the forefront of this crisis, and I want to acknowledge their amazing commitment, hard work and courage. It is truly humbling.

I would also like to sincerely thank all those working behind-the-scenes providing essential services to those on the frontline of health and care, and to everyone we employ. In particular, technology is playing a key role enabling us to respond and enact remote working for our people in office-based roles. I am so grateful for the way our People, Technology and Facilities teams have planned for this and then put these plans into action.  

This public health emergency is a human emergency. It affects us all and must be tackled together. As a society, we are all adapting to the new environment with many challenges ahead. I am absolutely committed to Bupa playing our part as society rises to – and faces – those challenges together.

Find updates from Bupa’s organisations around the world

A message to people who work at Bupa from our CEO and Chief Medical Officer

More information

When did you start preparing for COVID-19?

We have been working on and preparing for COVID-19 since January, when our people in Hong Kong and China were amongst those immediately affected. Their experience informed our preparations elsewhere.

While the WHO did not consider it to be a global pandemic at the time, we immediately created a ‘Crisis Management Team’ with the objective of preparing in case the situation developed. We have monitored the situation closely and continuously, acting and adjusting taking account of public health recommendations and requirements.

How has Bupa responded?

As a healthcare company, we have been led by the science and the public health advice, taking account of local government advice in countries around the world as well as the views of organisations such as the WHO.

In January, as well as managing the impact of the crisis in Hong Kong and China, we established local crisis management teams in every part of Bupa to take immediate action (such as restricting travel and providing health advice), and also plan for potential escalation. This was co-ordinated at a global level with leadership by members of our Bupa Executive Team, with the teams closely monitoring and following the advice of the local and international public health experts. It is now being managed through a Global Taskforce comprising the full Bupa Executive Team.

Supporting the public response to COVID-19 is our top priority, everywhere. Right across Bupa, teams are in full activation mode. You can find more detailed updates from the different parts of our organisation above.

That means supporting our health insurance customers, and caring for our hospital and clinic patients, and the residents living in our care homes. We have also introduced measures to support our people, including enacting remote working and other measures to support them and their families.

How has it affected Bupa’s people?

Our committed and dedicated people are working round the clock according to the impact that COVID-19 is having in their country and type of service provided.

Healthcare workers are at the forefront of this. Over half of the people Bupa employs are clinicians and care providers, and we also work in partnership with many more including those in the public sector. They are our first concern and priority. Those working in frontline clinical and care roles and in customer service are responding with a strong sense of commitment and pride in an incredibly challenging environment.

Those who work in ‘back office’ roles – such as people services, technology and resilience – are also rallying to ensure they provide a backbone of support. We are immensely proud of the way our people are responding. We have enacted working from home capabilities as the situation has developed.

As well as providing support to any of our people who are directly or indirectly affected, we have been providing regular communications across the whole of Bupa since COVID-19 first emerged as a public health issue, raising awareness of the public health advice. This is a recent example.

Evelyn Bourke

Group CEO

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