The company, the healthcare subsidiary of life assurance giant Standard Life Group, this week promoted company stalwart Caroline Southwood from corporate affairs head to a board-level post.
Southwood said Standard Life Healthcare – the UK’s fourth-largest private medical insurance provider behind BUPA, Axa PPP and Norwich Union – planned to step up its lobbying in favour of healthcare funding reform.
‘Healthcare reform will never take place until the Government can get its head around different ways of funding [than by general taxation]. The current system is not sustainable because people are living longer,’ said Southwood.
Lobbying will be stepped up to persuade former NatWest CEO Derek Wanless, who is leading an ongoing investigation to inform the Government on future healthcare funding, of the need for greater private sector involvement in healthcare provision.
In his first report in April 2002, Wanless argued against ‘alternative financing’, but Southwood insisted: ‘Taxation alone cannot deliver good patient choice.’
Southwood heads an eight-strong team spanning public affairs, media relations, corporate social responsibility and internal communications.
She has no plans to draft in extra agencies, saying she would continue to solely use Essex-based Cadence PR for projects.
Southwood said she wanted journalists to approach her for stories, ‘not just about private medical insurance, but for stories on broader issues on which we are lobbying’.
But her team will also target personal finance journalists with stories to ‘educate’ customers on ‘the downsides of self-paying – research shows consumers significantly underestimate the costs’, she said.