UnitedHealth UK’s chief executive has insisted in an HSJ interview that the firm’s NHS business will grow and also confirmed that the company will rebrand.

As HSJ reported in September, UnitedHealth UK will now become Optum. UnitedHealth UK’s current chief executive Katherine Ward said the name change reflected the fact that the firm was now the same entity as an occupational health company and a software provider it previously purchased.

The firm has today revealed that as part of the shake-up Ms Ward will take up a post as senior vice president, business development for Optum outside the United States and the firm will recruit a “country manager” for the UK.

The company says it remains committed to the NHS.

The executive vice president of the firm’s parent company UnitedHealth Group is Simon Stevens, who is widely tipped asfrontrunner to become chief executive of NHS England.

UnitedHealth UK recorded a £8.2m loss and a 27 per cent fall in turnover in 2012 - its 11th loss-making year in a row - its annual accounts revealed last month.

Referring to the difficulties it had faced since 2010, Ms Ward told HSJ: “In 2010 some of our competitors took a look at the market and decided to exit. We took a decision a decision to stay. We expected that revenues were not going to grow substantially.”

In January 2011 HSJ reported the giant American private healthcare firm Humana was pulling out of the NHS commissioning support market.

Referring to the company’s NHS work, Ms Ward added: “I do expect to see growth in 2013.” She said the company was recruiting new staff.

UnitedHealth UK bought software firm ScriptSwitch in 2009 but they traded as two separate legal entities. They are now coming together with occupational health firm PPC as Optum.

The company says 74 per cent of clinical commissioning groups in England use its ScriptSwitch software. Meanwhile, UHUK provides a range of commissioning support services.

It has a contract with CCGs in the former South Central Strategic Health Authority area to handle the specialist work they send to the London specialist hospitals. This contract expires in March.

It also runs a referral service in Hounslow, London, and is developing a risk modelling tool for commissioners.

The company is among the bidders for the older people’s services contract in Cambridgeshire, which could be worth up to £800m. A decision is expected in July.

ScriptSwitch had a turnover of £25.4m in 2012 and UHUK £4.3m.

This was an increase for ScriptSwitch, from £22.6m in 2011, but a decline for UHUK which had a turnover of £5.8m that year.