Oasis. BUPA. Round and round until the music stops….

(Apologies for mixed metaphors)

I remember a staple of children’s parties was a game called pass the parcel. In this a present was wrapped in many layers of paper and passed from child to child who were seated in a circle. When the music stopped whoever had the parcel removed a layer of wrapping paper. As the game wore on it became more exciting as to who would be holding the parcel when the last sheet of wrapping was removed.

The present wasn’t always what you wanted. Some parents would wrap cabbages or other vegetables.

The news that Bridgepoint is selling Oasis to BUPA has been rumoured for a couple of months. The price is apparently £835 million. They paid £185 million when they bought it in 2013. They have made serious acquisitions and expansions (including using the fact that they also owned Smiles to further expand into Ireland).

They (BUPA) already have a number of practices which I believe are all private, taking on the conglomerate that is Oasis with lots of NHS practices will be a challenge. I have heard stories of associate dentists having to buy their own materials  and other less than thrilling tales of the pursuit of the UDA target that made me feel it was a “buy, build, expand and sell exercise”. That’s what venture capitalists do.

BUPA is a name that one readily associates with private health care and i wonder if this is the first step into their creating an alternative very large private dental chain. In which case they will have to set about developing a culture of customer service, communication and patient care that many of Oasis practices are sadly lacking at the moment.

That’s a very big ticket for them to repay. As with all these takeovers about which I seem to write 3 or 4 times a year I wish them success because the workforce of dentists and DCPs deserve good management and appreciation and the patients should be able to expect and receive the very best treatment.

It is a myth that any business is too big to fail. I am concerned that this parcel may well reveal itself to have a balloon at its centre. In which case be careful how you tear the paper and sellotape, because, to use a line which I seem to write every couple of weeks at the moment, there’s nothing sadder than a burst balloon. My memory of a lot of children’s parties is them ending with the someone in tears.

This time the balloon could be very big indeed….

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