Tribal Group

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Tribal Group is a consulting business, which describes itself as "focused on improving the delivery of public services."

It operates in the UK "in partnership with a wide range of organisations across the public sector, including government departments and agencies; the NHS, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and health providers; schools, colleges and universities; and local authorities." It also operates in 65 countries around the world.[1]

In August 2010, Tribal's shares shot up after talk of a takeover came to light. In the longer term, Tribal was tipped to be one of the winners from government cuts, with the public sector turning to the company for advice on how to reduce costs.[2] It sold its health and government business to rivals Capita for £15.87m in April 2011.[3]

Helping to reform the NHS

Its health practice, which it describes as "at the forefront of health service reform", bought health care consultancy Newchurch in 2009 to create Tribal Newchurch. The new consultancy offered a range of services "from strategy and organisational development to frontline change management."

Tribal Newchurch's consultancy services included:

  • Provision of strategy and policy advice at national level
  • Supporting Primary Care Trusts in becoming world class commissioners
  • Working with health providers to improve the quality and efficiency of the services they provide
  • Organisational development and change management, including leadership of strategic change

And

  • Advice to independent sector healthcare providers and companies wishing to enter into or develop their presence in the healthcare market[4]

"Denationalisation of health care"

In 2010 Tribal Newchurch saw a major opportunity in providing infrastructure for new general practice (GP) consortiums. These consortia are a key proposal of the UK Coalition government's 2010 Health White Paper. The plans would see GPs being handed an £80 billion annual commissioning budget, a policy that has been labeled the "most revolutionary" change in the NHS since it was created.[5]There are fears that the private sector will be invited to take over if consortia slip up.[6]

In a press release outlining Tribal's response to the government's proposals and their implications,Tribal Newchurch's director of business development, Kingsley Manning, said:

"This white paper could amount to the denationalisation of health care services in England... It could result in the biggest transfer of employment out of the public sector since the significant reforms seen in 1980s. As NHS trusts become foundation trusts, this will see the transfer of billions of tax-payers’ assets to employee-controlled businesses... The old certainties are gone: the NHS cannot be protected from economic reality any longer."[7]

However, in an interview published in August 2010, Manning struck a more cautious note commenting on whether the private sector could take over commissioning from GPs entirely: 'It's difficult to see how legislation could ever devolve responsibility for NHS services fully to a private company."[8]

But Tribal - like UnitedHealth UK, Humana, Bupa and Aetna UK - are clearly positioning themselves to help GPs commission services: Manning again: "If consortia are going to fly, they have to use the best available technology. We provide services GPs will struggle to replicate." How much Tribal and others can expect to earn from the NHS from helping GPs is still in question: "There is a vital discussion over how much (GP consortia's) management allowance will be," says Mr Manning. "If the management fee is too small it may not be financially viable for companies to provide support."[9]

Commenting on the role of the private sector in providing NHS services thanks to the Conservative Party's reforms, Tribal said: "The major opportunity for the private sector would come if and when current NHS incumbents fail to make the transition to the new regime. Under those circumstances the Government might well expect, if not invite, the private sector to step in... the Department [of Health] will be vulnerable to the accusation that in creating 500 plus consortia [of GPs] and an open market, overall administration and transaction costs may actually increase.[10]

Lobbying

Tribal funded a report by the think tank Policy Exchange in January 2010 called 'Controlling Public Spending: The NHS in a period of tight funding'.

In December 2010 Tribal supplied names to Lansley's special adviser, Bill Morgan according to emails obtained by Spinwatch. Tribal's executive chairman, Kingsley Manning, wrote: "Further to our conversation, please find attached a list of GPs you may want to contact with respect to the launch of Consortia Pathfinders; we haven't briefed them so somebody would need to talk to them before they were exposed to the press."

Lobbyists

People

Resources

See: The Corporate Capture of the NHS

Contacts

Head office
87-91 Newman Street
London, W1T 3EY
Website: http://www.tribalgroup.com

References

  1. Tribal Group microsite, accessed October 2010
  2. Whispers of a takeover see Tribal Group’s shares leap London Evening Standard, 11 August 2010
  3. Capita to buy Tribal's health business, HSJ, 11 April 2011
  4. Tribal Group microsite, accessed October 2010
  5. Can GP power cure the NHS?, The Mirror, 13 July 2010
  6. Private firms eye changing NHS, GP Newspaper, 5 August 2010
  7. 'The NHS cannot be protected from economic reality any longer'Tribal press release, 13 July 2010
  8. Private firms eye changing NHS, GP Newspaper, 5 August 2010
  9. Private firms eye changing NHS, GP Newspaper, 5 August 2010
  10. ‘LIBERATING THE NHS’ - THE NEXT TURN IN THE CORK SCREW?, An analysis of the Coalition Government’s proposals for health, Tribal publication 2010
  11. GP partnerships are wrong for NHS market, Pulse, 9 March 2006