Healthcare

Budget pressures, regulation, policy, patient demands - looking for lawyers with a practical understanding of the commercial priorities, regulatory backdrop and strategic challenges that face the healthcare sector?

Wragge & Co's dedicated healthcare practice, led by Bleddyn Rees "who sets the tone for a great team" (Legal 500 2012), comprises 70 cross-firm specialists in commissioning, outsourcing, employment, pensions, regulatory, banking and procurement law. The team draws on commercial expertise from around the firm to deliver a bespoke service to public and private sector clients.

Commercially-focused, innovative and with unique sector experience the team is not afraid of a challenge and takes a leading role in sector-first transactions. It's part of why it was crowned 'Legal Adviser of the Year' at the Health Investor Awards 2011.

Adding to this success the team was also recognised for its role in a ground-breaking project which won 'Deal of the Year'. The deal for NHS East of England Strategic Health Authority marks a sector first in procuring a private partner to take over the operation of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust.

Public sector

Influencing policy, taking a lead role in sector-first transactions... Wragge & Co's public sector healthcare experts are at the forefront of developments in this dynamic sector.

Innovation is the team's watchword. From masterminding the first-ever competitive transfer of an entire NHS mental health trust - a British Legal Award winner - to the franchising under an intervention order of an entire acute hospital, the team boasts a track record of breaking new legal ground.

This innovative, solutions-driven approach includes advising the Abu Dhabi government on the redrafting all of its healthcare laws.

David Hamlett led a team advising the Department of Health and more than 120 trusts on the innovative Independent Sector Treatment (ISTC) programme. As well as providing strategic input, the team advised on contracts, leases and employment matters. Now policy has evolved, its lawyers continue to advise on innovations in primary care contracting and approaches to integrated care.

Clients expect commercial and pragmatic advice, which can only be borne from a true understanding of the marketplace. And with a 70-strong sector-focused team including former biochemists, geneticists, microbiologists, pharmacists and secondees to the DH, it's exactly what the team delivers. Drawing on substantial private sector experience it provides NHS and local authority clients with commercially astute advice.

Public sector understanding is boosted by substantial in-house experience. Bleddyn Rees spent four years as general counsel to the Commercial Directorate of the Department of Health. Partner Robert Breedon also has a first-rate healthcare CV, previously providing consultancy services to various in-house legal teams, including the DH.

From strategic advice through to joint ventures, social enterprises, procurement support and employment-related advice, the team is helping the UK Government offer greater choice and flexibility in the provision of healthcare. It provides practical, timely alerts on major sector developments such as the Health Bill, and hosts seminar events where its experts share insight into the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. Internationally, it is advising on a wide range of programmes and structures.

Operating in this dynamic sector involves walking the political tightrope of delivering complex projects in the context of the NHS. Having acted for the DH, five strategic health authorities, five foundation trusts, 46 acute trusts and 47 primary care trusts, clients are in safe hands, with an NHS project director commenting: "...preparing ground-breaking legal documentation from scratch, they performed at an exceptional level".

Private sector

In the private sector, the team boasts industry knowledge and technical expertise. Andy Stylianou acts for leading private healthcare providers and investors in life sciences on M&A, private equity transactions and management buy-outs.

Providing more than just legal advice, venture capital specialist Ian Piggin has connections to help healthcare clients access funding and secure collaboration agreements. Experience includes advising Abingworth LLP, MDY Healthcare plc and Ivy Capital Partners on the institutional buy-out of Stanmore Implants Worldwide Limited.

Clients include the DoH, Paragon Healthcare, the Wellcome Trust, South West Essex Primary Care Trust, BUPA, Commissioning Business Services (a unit of the Association of Greater Manchester), Ashford and St Peters NHS Trust, Abingworth LLP, Inverness Medical Innovations, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

Healthcare and competition

In both public and private healthcare markets, the application of competition law to healthcare is gathering momentum. Wragge & Co's award-winning Competition & EU team is uniquely placed to assist Foundation Trusts and Acute Trusts to navigate this changing environment with positive results. The team has many years' experience in assisting leading NHS and private organisations to achieve their goals in a timely and cost-effective fashion.

The team can advise you on a full range of contentious and non-contentious competition law issues from cooperative arrangements through to mergers.

Recent merger decisions by competition regulators have highlighted that understanding the relevance and proper application of competition law is crucial. Through its knowledge and expertise, the Competition & EU team is able to work with you throughout the planning process on the merits / de-merits of mergers or alternative co-operative arrangements.

In a merger scenario we have many years' experience of guiding clients through the process. Following on from the Poole/Bournemouth banned merger, competition law has experienced some bad press in the health world. A proper demonstration of relevant benefits for patients and the financial and economic viability of plans is key to obtaining clearance of a merger in the healthcare sector.

As you will see from the competition webpage, Wragge & Co's experts are well placed to effectively articulate to the regulators the clinical, financial and regulatory circumstances of your organisation and the proposed transaction with a successful outcome.

For more on healthcare, contact Bleddyn Rees (bleddyn_rees@wragge.com) or David Hamlett (david_hamlett@wragge.com).