Graphic: Specialist UK cataract players cut out the competition

Data from NHS England on outsourced cataract operations shows how the old guard of BMI, Spire and Nuffield Health have lost market share to new, specialised players.

The infographic below shows the number of cataract surgeries outsourced by NHS England to the biggest private operators (those doing fewer than 1,000 operations in 2017-18 are not included). Each bar represents a specific operator in one year: hover over their names in the legend at the bottom to pinpoint their figures.

It clearly shows that private hospital groups like BMI, Spire and Nuffield are being beaten by new specialised groups like Spamedica and Newmedica, the former of which we are told is for sale.

In 2013-14 – towards the left of the chart – the three hospitals and Spamedica were the biggest providers. Fast forward to 2017-18, the cataract specialists are three of the top five, with Spamedica the largest nearly twice its closest competitor. That year saw it do more NHS cataract surgeries than Moorfields Eye Hospital, the world-famous NHS institute.

By focusing on one type of operation, groups like Spamedica and Newmedica can be extremely efficient making it hard for hospitals to compete. Spamedica in particular has launched purpose-built facilities

The private sector has doubled its market share of all NHS cataract surgeries in England, from 12.5% in 2013-14 to 19.6% in 2017-18. However, this is largely being driven by Spamedica, with the NHS data indicating it responsible for over half of the increased number of operations being outsourced to the private sector in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Cameron Murray or call 0207 183 3779.