Bevan Brittan has been recognised as a Band 1 firm in both Healthcare and the new Employment: Employer: Healthcare categories in the newly published Chambers & Partners 2021 directory guide.

In our latest Chambers Spotlight interview, Partners Joanna Lloyd and Vincent Buscemi offer some insight into their work and practice area.

What has made this such a successful year for your practice?

We have seen a level of increased collaboration between healthcare providers, both from the NHS and the independent sector, in their combined efforts to deal with Covid-19. This is turn, has changed the way that we have worked with our clients. Our teams have responded amazingly to the challenges this has created and have worked around the clock to meet arising needs. For example, having to advise on legislation in the shape of the Coronavirus Act on an emergency basis.

Another unintended consequence of Covid-19 is the rapid acceleration of digital advances. These have progressed in a way that no one could have predicted; we have achieved in months what might otherwise have taken years and the whole health system cannot and will not ever go back. This is a strong positive.

From an internal perspective, our independent health sector has had four years of year on year growth, (above 20%) and we have extended our multidisciplinary team offering in very challenging times with lateral hires across regulatory real estate, banking and finance – which has strengthened our overall offering to the market and to our clients.

We also recently won the HealthInvestor ‘Legal Advisor of the year – Transactional’ award – which is now our sixth HealthInvestor award in four years across both the public and private markets, demonstrating our combined offering to the entire health and social care ecosystem as one of strongest in the country.

What types of projects have you worked on/advice have you been providing over the last 12 months?

From our independent health clients we have seen a spectacular variety between corporate, commercial and regulatory matters – both which are Covid-19 and non Covid-19 related. We helped to agree contracts with the NHS to cease independent healthcare providers’ ‘business as usual’; effectively becoming part of the NHS’s response to Covid-19 by making staff, equipment and premises available to the NHS to treat NHS patients.

We have worked on a variety of community service collaborations and the establishment of joint ventures to provide more integrated services. There has been a range of innovative medical devices and life sciences work, including a number of projects in relation to clinical trials – as well as advising on rolling out different Covid-19 testing services, remote consultation and diagnostic services.

We have also advised on a number of international projects to assist clients to export their goods and services into new and emerging markets, including the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Although challenging, it has been a fantastically interesting year.

What do you think are the opportunities and challenges faced by this market over the next 12 months?

In terms of challenges, it is impossible to talk about the healthcare market without referencing the big three: Covid-19, Brexit and the economy. The effects of leaving the single market are largely unknown – most commentators and those working in the independent health and social care market agree that there will be adverse effects on supplies, supply chain, management capacity and workforce related issues.

There is also bound to be inevitable changes to regulations and regulatory frameworks that impact on health and social care, life sciences and medical devices. Alongside a wide range of funding issues that will present challenges both in terms of how you continue to fund the NHS and social care whilst trying to maintain the economy through the second wave or more of the pandemic. It is fair to say that the effect of the pandemic on the UK economy has been somewhat extreme. Coupled with the uncertainties of leaving the single market and the customs union, this makes medium to long term planning difficult for many health and social care operators.

The pandemic has put huge pressure on the system and it will be extremely difficult to establish a return to ‘business as usual’. One issue the pandemic has brought to the fore are the realities facing our clients in relation to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. The impact of Covid-19 on those from the BAME community provides a context we must never forget and we have to move forward advising our clients within that context. There are no easy solutions but it has got to stay at the forefront of our thinking. There are also multiple other challenges arising such as workforce burnout.

On a more positive note, there are also huge opportunities that flow from all of this. The health and social care market has developed digitisation in a way that no one could have dreamt would be possible just seven months ago. This points towards further opportunities within digitisation, data, and data analytics. There are promising opportunities for greater operational effectiveness, leaner structures, and better, higher quality programmes as well as an uptake in robotics and automation.

The effects of the pandemic will play out over many more years to come, and trying to address challenges over next few years is going to be difficult. But in the face of an incredible context, it makes what our health team do every day utterly fascinating and very grounding.

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