Company behind GP at Hand reports £95m loss

The company behind the controversial GP at Hand service - which holds England's largest GP patient list with nearly 90,000 NHS patients - lost more than £95m in 2019, its annual accounts show.

Photo: John Lamb/Getty Images
Photo: John Lamb/Getty Images

Losses of £95m for Babylon Partners Limited in the year to 31 December 2019 represent an increase from losses of around £60m in 2018 - and mean the company has reported a loss for five years in a row. As in accounts for 2018, the company attributed losses to 'investment in developing artificial intelligence technology and global expansion'.

Babylon Healthcare Services Limited, meanwhile - the arm that includes the GP at Hand service - also made a loss in 2019 of £1.8m. In 2018 Babylon Healthcare reported a profit of £288,537, just over double its profit of £108,358 for 2017.

Losses in the most recent accounts filed by Babylon Health and Babylon Partners come despite NHS data for January 2021 showing that GP at Hand now holds a patient list of almost 90,000 - the largest in England.

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GP at Hand now holds England’s largest patient list

In the year from December 2018 to December 2019, covering roughly the same period as the latest published accounts, GP at Hand's NHS patient list grew by 84% from 39,007 to 71,764.

The expansion of the predominantly video consultation service has been controversial because its patient population is heavily skewed towards younger age groups - 86% of patients registered with GP at Hand are aged between 20 and 39 years old, compared with just 28% of the population of England.

Despite losses for 2019, Babylon Healthcare Services Limited reports in its accounts that the Babylon group secured funding 'worth $380m' - around £275m - in August 2019 - which it said would be used to 'finance domestic growth and international expansion'.

A Babylon press release in August 2019 said it had secured funding from investors including the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia - one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds - and venture capitalists.

Artificial intelligence

Babylon Healthcare Services Limited accounts for 2019 say the 'principal activity of the company is to provide healthcare services primarily through employee benefit contracts with corporations, private patients and its NHS GP at Hand offering'.

A breakdown of the company's revenue shows that it brought in £9.5m for clinical services in 2019, compared with £4.96m the previous year.

A Babylon spokesperson told GPonline: 'In 2019 Babylon focused on investing in technology to put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth. This focus resulted in the company growing its annual revenue by four times in both 2019 and 2020 and continues to be well funded in 2021 and beyond.

'During the year, Babylon Partners Limited spent heavily in its artificial intelligence and telemedicine platform which is used by our patients and partners, including those in the NHS and as part of our expansion into the US and across other new markets.

'The vast majority of Babylon’s expenditure continues to be on employment which drives research and development, with low sales and marketing costs, and is predominantly in the UK.'

Babylon Partners' accounts show that the company has a 'long-term risk transfer agreement' with Babylon Healthcare Services Limited through which it underwrites 'entrepreneurial and commercial risk' and provides support funding.

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