IHPN insight

Case studies

Independent healthcare providers have been playing a key role in supporting the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic and helping ensure that patients get the care they need in these most challenging of times.

This includes the recent historic deal whereby independent hospitals have put virtually all their capacity at the disposal of the NHS in responding to coronavirus, as well as an agreement for all independent sector CT scanning capacity to be used by the NHS support the accurate diagnosis of covid19.

Below are just some of the examples of how independent providers are supporting the fight against coronavirus.

Further information on an indicative set of offers from a variety of our members to support CCGs and Trusts during the Covid-19 pandemic can also be found here.

Connect Health - delivering NHS physio during covid19

Date of publication: 7th May 2020

Connect Health is the largest provider of NHS Community musculoskeletal (MSK) services, including physiotherapy, chronic and persistent pain and rheumatology. Prior to Covid-19 Connect were delivering remote/virtual care to 200,000 patients per year, so were able to scale this capability rapidly to ensure that patients can still access the clinical care that they require.

In particular Connect have scaled up their virtual physiotherapy service and has also introduced a digital self-assessment tool – PhysioNow – which is part of their work to invest resources into ground-breaking AI technologies in order to improve accessibility and patient choice.

During the current pandemic many of Connect’s staff have been re-deployed to frontline services in NHS Trusts, and the new Nightingale Hospitals. This includes working in Rehab Teams on wards to enable people to be discharged home quicker or in physio roles in various other locations such as Neuro or Inpatient units.



Paul Aberdein - leukaemia treatment at Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital

Date of publication: 11th Jan 2021

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have worked together to provide inpatient care for people living with cancer.

In December 2019, Paul Aberdein was diagnosed with leukaemia and was then referred to NHS Addenbrooke’s hospital where he was transferred to the haematology Ward D6, received chemotherapy treatment, and bone marrow biopsies. Later in March, amid the pandemic, Paul was told that the leukaemia had returned and that his next treatment and continuation of care would be at the independent Nuffield Health Hospital in Cambridge.

Paul said: “The NHS Addenbrooke’s and Nuffield Health hospital teams were all working together under one roof – it was amazing to see consultants, clinicians, specialist nurses and surgical ward teams supporting each other, sharing their knowledge and experience as they worked side-by-side to keep us patients staying strong. To be honest, I’ve been so humbled by the whole experience – it was a total team effort for which I am truly thankful

 My stay at the Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital lasted 64 days, it kept me secure, helped me progress and made me fit enough for surgery – I really don’t know what would have happened otherwise.”

Pamela Austin - cancer treatment at Spire Hartswood

Date of publication: 11th Jan 2021

Around 7,500 NHS patients have received cancer and other urgent treatment at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood, under a historic agreement between Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) and the Spire hospital.

During the peak of the pandemic, the hospital transformed itself into a dedicated cancer centre. Since then, NHS patients requiring surgery for urological, breast, neurological and gynaecological cancer have come to Spire to receive their treatment, and for many months, Spire took over the whole of BHRUT’s skin cancer service.

Pamela Austin, an NHS patient who had treatment at Spire Hartswood, said, “Being diagnosed with cancer by the Gynae Team at Queen’s Hospital, Romford during the height of the covid19 pandemic came as a complete shock.  I was so grateful to have surgery at Spire Hartswood, under the care of Miss Mukhopadhyay, where the expertise of the whole team was exemplary at every stage of my treatment.  My lasting memories of Spire Hartswood are of the many smiling, friendly and caring eyes peeping over the inevitable, but essential, face masks.  Thank you all so much for supporting the NHS and especially for my own care.”

Georgina Hunt - interventional cardiology treatment at KIMS Hospital

Date of publication: 11th Jan 2021

KIMS Hospital contains the only private Interventional Cardiology facility in Kent, where patients can undergo both diagnostic and Interventional treatments such as Angiograms, Pacemaker Implants, Electrophysiology, Stent Insertions and Vascular access. Prior to the start of the pandemic, KIMS Hospital’s Interventional Suite Team already had a partnership in place working collaboratively with Medway NHS Foundation Trust (MFT). As covi19 began to close NHS hospitals’ operating theatres, KIMS Hospital was able to support the NHS further by working closely with other local NHS Trusts such as Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW), offering access to patients requiring urgent or complex cardiology treatment.

Georgina Hunt, 22, has suffered with undiagnosed supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) since the age of 11 when she fainted at school due to an exceptionally fast heartbeat. At the time, she was diagnosed as having anxiety and over the next 11 years was treated for panic attacks which were believed to be the cause of the rapid heart rate. However, in October 2019, Georgina suffered her worst episode whilst attending a family event. She was rushed to Maidstone Hospital where the team were able to take an ECG which showed her heart was beating at a rate of 288 beats per minute, nearly three times the rate of a normal heartbeat. In November 2019, Georgina was fitted with a seven-day heart monitor which captured two episodes of SVT and she was eventually diagnosed with an unusual third electrical pathway in the heart which was causing the abnormal heartbeat.

The cardiology team at Maidstone Hospital scheduled Georgina’s operation shortly after. However, due to COVID-19 her operation was delayed.

In July, Georgina received news that her care was being transferred to KIMS Hospital under the NHS England contract and two weeks later she was admitted to the Interventional Suite to undergo Electrophysiology (EP).  Six months on and Georgina is recovering well. She has not had a single SVT episode since her operation.

Georgina comments, “I’m so grateful that MTW were able to work with KIMS Hospital during these uncertain times. To be so close to having my operation and then not knowing if it would ever happen due to COVID-19 was devasting. Being treated at KIMS Hospital was the best thing I’ve ever done. Although it is going to take me many months to fully recover, as the operation on my heart was so complex, at least I have had it done thanks to the collaboration that was put in place by the NHS and the independent health sector earlier this year.”

Nigel Pooley - Stroke rehab at KIMS Hospital

Date of publication: 8th Jan 2021

KIMS Hospital has worked closely with local NHS Trusts; Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW), Dartford & Gravesham, and Medway (MFT) by providing care to those patients that still needed urgent treatment for other health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of this partnership, MTW relocated their stroke rehabilitation ward to KIMS Hospital who managed the service from the end of March until the end of August. They worked in close collaboration with the occupational therapists and physio therapy teams from MTW who based themselves at KIMS Hospital during that time.

After suffering a stroke, Mr Nigel Pooley was receiving treatment under the care of the team at MTW and was transferred to KIMS Hospital at the beginning of May, to continue his rehabilitation. He was treated and cared for by the team at KIMS Hospital as well as a number of physiotherapists from MTW until his discharge at the end of May.

Mr Pooley comments, “I have had many injuries and a few ailments in my life and therefore visited numerous hospitals both in the UK and abroad. KIMS Hospital has stood out above all others in my estimation, not just the facilities but far more importantly the level of care. The KIMS Hospital and MTW team were exemplary. Not just the Doctors, Nurses, Physios, Occupational Therapists and Psychologists but also the; Administrators, Cleaners, Porters and Caterers. The collaboration between MTW and KIMS Hospital meant my care and rehabilitation was uninterrupted despite the pandemic.”

Practice Plus Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre & University Hospital Plymouth NHS Trust

Date of publication: 30th Apr 2020

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth have completely repurposed their service to help in the response to COVID-19. Working with the local NHS Trust (Universities Hospital Plymouth), their unit has gone from doing one core specialty to over half a dozen in the space of just weeks, including urology, ENT, general surgery, breast cancer surgery, plastic cancer surgery, plastic and orthopaedic ambulatory trauma, and vascular surgery. This also includes all outpatient pre-assessments and COVID swabbing of patients, with the Trust housing its Occupational Therapists, plastic trauma and dressing clinics, gynaecological clinics and vascular ultrasound clinics at the centre too. All this as well as running a MRI Scanner service and taking step down in-patients from UHP.

A truly hybrid model has been adopted, with surgery undertaken by Trust surgeons supported by Practice Plus’ theatre team and anaesthetists. It has been such a fantastic example of collaboration and the centre are so proud of how all teams have responded. Patients seem so pleased to have the opportunity to still have their surgery in spite of the pandemic – without the hard work and determination of everyone involved these patients would have had nowhere to go.


Practice Plus - NHS Buckinghamshire MSK Integrated Care Service

Date of publication: 30th Apr 2020

Prior to COVID 19, only a very small part of Practice Plus’ Buckinghamshire MSK services were delivered over the telephone (namely diagnostic results) and all assessments and treatments, were 100% face to face. However in April, of the 657 patients seen in just one week, 100% were seen and treated virtually by telephone/video consultation.

Of the new patients seen, circa 25% were treated by video consultation whereby clinicians can share their screen with the patient if they want to talk the through MRI or X-ray results, and show the patient their images. Video consultation enables the clinician to ‘observe’ the patient, which is a key part of an MSK assessment and use it to view ganglions, lumps and swellings, as well as to support assessment of range of movement, and potential muscle weakness in patients with radiculopathy. It has also been used to demonstrate exercise prescription, which is a large part of the self-management advice required for patients to be able to manage their conditions at home. This type of intervention is so important to enable patients to continue to be active and support / care for loved ones as well as helping to offload GPs in primary care to be able to support more medically unwell patients.

InHealth - repurposing community facilities to support the NHS

Date of publication: 1st May 2020

Very early on in the pandemic, InHealth took the decision to re-orientate their entire organisation to support the NHS to respond to the substantial challenge that is COVID-19, including:

NHS 111 service: At the request of the London Ambulance Service (LAS) InHealth has repurposed their 120-seat Patient Referral Centre in Rochdale to support them in handling COVID-19 calls to NHS111. The service we are providing to the LAS went live on 2nd April and now operates 16 hours a day, seven days per week. In the first few weeks we handled over 50,000 calls

Breast screening: InHealth’s Breast Screening service in Surrey is currently suspended however, working with local stakeholders, InHealth has repurposed their screening centre to now provide a diagnostic service for women in that region with breast cancer symptoms to allow the clinical pathway for those women to continue.

Hot-hub for COVID-19 patients: InHealth’s MSK service in Manchester is delivered from a Mobile Clinical Unit (MCU) which unit moves from site-to-site within Greater Manchester providing great accessibility for local MSK patients. At the request of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG, the unit has been repurposed to be a “hot-hub” for COVID-19 patients.

HCA - supporting the NHS deliver cancer and other urgent care

Date of publication: 1st May 2020

As part of responding to the coronavirus pandemic HCA have partnered with the NHS to support patient care. This includes treating existing urgent medical and surgical NHS patients to relieve pressure on the NHS and allow the NHS to treat more patients.

As part of this support, HCA are working with NHS partners in North London to care for maternity and urgent gynaecology patients at The Portland Hospital. Our colleagues at The Portland Hospital have been very busy and are proud to have supported the delivery of almost 100 NHS babies born at the hospital so far.

HCA are also working closely with Guy’s & St Thomas’ and King’s College NHS Foundation Trust to undertake urgent and complex NHS time-critical cases, and are part of London’s “Cancer hub” ensuring NHS cancer patients can still access the urgent treatment they need.

Ramsay Oaklands Hospital & Salford Royal NHS FT

Date of publication: 1st May 2020

Ramsay’s Oaklands Hospital have worked with Salford Royal NHS FT and are now hosting their Intestinal Failure Service, one of only two designated centres for the treatment of complex intestinal failure patients in the country. Substantial investment was required to ensure the service could be delivered from the new site, including the establishment of complex IT systems and installation of specialist equipment. This was successfully achieved at short notice and the first cohort of patients and staff were welcomed in to the hospital by the end of March. The Oaklands Hospital and the Trust continue to work in close partnership, including the facilitation of ‘lunch and learn’ sessions to support knowledge and information sharing about the services provided.