Company behind GP at Hand sees losses rise beyond £60m

The company behind video consultation service GP at Hand made a loss of £65.1m in 2018 - nearly three times the loss it reported a year earlier, its annual accounts show.

Funding (Photo: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images)
Funding (Photo: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images)

Babylon Partners Limited saw its turnover increase from £1.45m in 2017 to £4.6m in 2018, but reported a loss of £65.1m - up from £23.3m in 2017. The company's accounts say the loss followed 'investment in developing artificial intelligence technology and global expansion'.

Accounts for Babylon Partners Limited also show net liabilities - the amount by which its total liabilities exceed assets - of £105.3m in 2018, more than double the figure for the previous year.

Meanwhile, Babylon Healthcare Services Limited - the part of the Babylon group that includes GP at Hand income in its accounts - reported profits of £288,537 for 2018, an increase from £108,358 the previous year.

GP at Hand

Babylon Healthcare Services Limited reported turnover of £4.96m in 2018 from both its private and NHS health services - but this was almost matched by the cost of providing private and NHS GP at Hand services, £4.77m.

Accounts for Babylon say that the group 'secured funding worth $380m' from investors in August 2019 that 'will be used to finance domestic growth and international expansion'.

A statement from Babylon director Ali Parsadoust says: 'The group continues on its mission to put an accessible and affordable healthcare service in the hands of everyone on earth. 2018 has been a year of significant investment for the group. For Babylon Healthcare Services Limited this has meant investment in the develpment of clinical services through our GP at Hand partnership with the NHS.'

Babylon GP at Hand, which has recruited more than 60,000 NHS patients mostly living and working in London, could be set for further growth after expanding to Birmingham earlier this year and with a Manchester service planned from early 2020. The controversial service offers access to NHS GPs predominantly via video consultations.

NHS service

The BMA has heavily criticised the decision to allow the rapid expansion of GP at Hand's NHS patient list, warning that the service threatens to undermine existing GP practices and accusing it of 'cherry picking' predominantly young patients.

Babylon has denied cherry picking, although the atypical population registered with GP at Hand shows it has attracted predominantly young patients - GPonline has reported that around 85% of its patient list is aged between 20 and 39 years old.

An independent report by Ipsos Mori published earlier this year, meanwhile, warned that the GP at Hand model may be unsustainable if rolled out across a wider population, even with a 'fundamental, large-scale redesign of primary care'.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has been a prominent supporter of Babylon's NHS GP service, mentioning again at this year's RCGP conference that he is registered as a patient with it.

GP at Hand patients - drawn from a wide geographical area - are currently registered on a single London-based patient list, but the service could be broken up from April under plans to force providers to set up separate patient lists in any CCG area from which they have registered more than 1,000 patients.

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