Operose Health Ltd, the UK arm of the large US healthcare insurance provider Centene Corporation, is to take over AT Medics, one of the leading providers of primary care services in London. The Lowdown understands that the details of the change of ownership will be presented to all PCCCs (Primary Care Commissioning Committees) across London over the next week.

AT Medics operates 49 GP surgeries across London, providing services to around 370,000 people, with 900 employees, which until the takeover was owned by six GP directors.

Its new owner, Operose Health was formed in January 2020, when Centene Corporation brought together its subsidiaries in the UK – The Practice Group (TPG) and Simplify Health. The Practice Group, which had a number of GP surgery contracts, was acquired by Centene in 2017. Operose’s direct parent company in the UK is MH Services International (UK) Ltd.

This latest acquisition is a further sign of Centene Corporation taking an expanding interest in the UK health market. The Corporation took a major shareholding in Circle Health around the time the latter company acquired BMI Healthcare, the UK’s leading private hospital group. 

In January 2020 Centene Corporation loaned its subsidiary, MH Services International Holdings (UK) Ltd the funds for an investment in Circle Health Holdings, although it is clear that Centene already had some level of investment in the company. The additional investment gives MH Services International (UK) Ltd a total voting interest of 40% in Circle Health Holdings. The accounts of MH Services International Holdings (UK) Ltd note that the investment gives Centene significant influence, but not control over Circle Health.

According to the Operose Health website, in December 2020, the company had contracts for 20 GP surgeries, plus one urgent treatment centre in Birmingham. In addition, the company lists ten ophthalmology services and a single dermatology clinic in Kent. These are all services originally run by The Practice Group.

AT Medics is a significant addition to its portfolio as it has won multiple contracts to run GP services across London. Most recently, in February 2020, when the company was the most successful bidder on the contract PRJ736 — London APMS GP Contracts”, winning six of the 15 lots on offer, with contracts running for 15 years and worth a total of just over £121 million.  

AT Medics will have had to apply to each CCG where it has a surgery to request a change of control. Under the terms of APMS contracts, contractors are required to seek prior authorisation for any change in ownership and it is possible that the CCG could make any authorisation of a change subject to conditions.

Update 24th February 2021: A group of campaigners has sent a letter requesting an investigation into the takeover of AT Medics, full story here


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