EXCLUSIVE: Millbrook’s drive for greater service integration will not rely on acquisitions

Phillip Campling Millbrook Healthcare

Millbrook Healthcare is aiming for an increasingly integrated approach to care so that it can offer NHS commissioners a more complete package of services amid shrinking budgets.

But the £115m company is determined to ensure it develops new capabilities in-house rather than relying on acquiring other businesses.  

Millbrook wants to be able to provide multiple care elements with a view to providing a better experience for users and a more affordable solution for commissioners. The company is therefore immersing itself in more spheres, such as stairlifts and telecare.

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Managing director Phillip Campling said that he is a “firm believer” in the idea that integration is the future and is intent on aligning Millbrook with this view.

Referring to the NHS’s recently published 10-year plan, Campling stressed a need for efficient and sustainable models to support an ever increasing demand and keeping people at home for longer.

He said that Millbrook’s integration strategy has changed the way conversations are held with the service-user and professionals.

“It genuinely does set us apart from the others. We initially started in wheelchairs services in 1995 as an approved repairer, entered community equipment services in 2000 and grew from there.

“We entered the home improvement agency (HIA) space in 2015. We’re in the telecare space, we do minor adaptations, specialist seating, we manufacture our own products with Ultimate Healthcare and now we have Consolor.     

“We are continually looking at how we can develop our services and if we’re sub-contracting something we look at how we can do it ourselves.

“We’re always looking at what other services commissioners are contracting and how we can make it a better experience for service-users by having one point of contact. We’re aiming towards a single service-user record throughout our IT system. It’s the only system that can work across all services.”

Campling said that Millbrook’s ambition to offer more services does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with takeovers. The company’s expansion has largely come from tendering and bringing expertise in-house.

Campling said: “We got into HIA by bringing in the leaders of that space. We entered into the wheelchair space because we had that knowledge and it was the same in telecare.

“Our history shows we’re not a company that necessarily acquires. It’s planned in a way that when we want to enter a field, we bring in the expertise and then tender.

“What we’re very good at is working with commissioners to develop the services we have. The commissioner might say they want to develop telecare within a service we already provide so we work with them on that.”

Millbrook recently launched its own stairlift division, which is growing quickly as a result of its HIA work. Its existing HIA team meant it already had good knowledge of ceiling track systems and so stairlifts were a natural extension of in-house technical expertise.

Campling said it is often about leveraging the contracts it has to see how it can improve services and offer better value in a controlled way that ensures quality.

Increasingly, commissioners are seeing the value of recycling equipment like stairlifts and so Campling identifies this division as a significant opportunity for Millbrook and its customers.       

Millbrook exited the mobility retail space over a year ago after finding the model did not quite sit with its current set-up. Campling said that the company put a conscious effort into creating some top-end retail facilities in the form of its MiLife concept.

But it became clear that the MiLife sites, based at its service depots, were not going to attract the footfall required for a viable retail model. Online retail is still very much regarded as an opportunity by Millbrook and could become a new venture if the appropriate expertise can be brought in.

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Joe Peskett

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