The head of the UK’s largest private healthcare group has insisted it would be “madness” to prohibit price competition in the NHS, and insisted he does want to compete on price with NHS hospitals.

And in an exclusive interview in this week’s HSJ, General Healthcare Group chief executive Adrian Fawcett says he is “more excited than ever” about the potential opportunities for companies like GHG under the NHS reforms.

He argues there is “no evidence” the NHS can make the efficiency savings it needs, and therefore UK healthcare must either see an increase in private provision and funding, or accept unsatisfied demand.

“What better marketplace could you be in as a healthcare provider, [than one] where – ignoring the economy – the demand and need for your product and service is rising irrespective of what you do?” he concludes.

“It is almost untenable to find a 10-year programme that satisfies this demand… out of tax-take alone.

“Therefore we need to increase our sources of funding, and I think these reforms are the starting point [for] making that happen.”

On price competition he says he can understand why, in the early stages of reform, providers would be allowed only to compete on service quality, but says it would be “madness not to end up where price became part of the equation”. 

He also describes his “passion” for the idea of going “on-site with the NHS”, investing directly in the development of NHS estate and facilities to create a “full unison of the private sector with the NHS”.

He adds that the NHS must be seen as an “asset” not a “treasure”, saying: “Treasures go up in value as a result of becoming obsolete and [gaining] rarity value. Assets go up in value because they become more interesting and useful.”

Read the full interview here.