Based in Liverpool, Medicash is now one of the UK’s leading health cash plan providers and, 150 years ago, it was providing a lifeline for the people of the city. Andy Abernethy reports
On Sunday, January 8, 1871, the first Hospital Sunday collection was held in Liverpool, raising £4,685 to support the local voluntary hospitals.
This was a time of global prominence for the Port of Liverpool but also a period when the city saw unimaginable levels of poverty and ill health. The local voluntary hospitals provided a vital lifeline and were in desperate need of support and funding.
It would be almost another 80 years until the National Health Service came into existence. So the collection was providing critical financial support to the voluntary hospitals of Liverpool and their patients.
It was the start of the journey of the organisation that eventually was to become Medicash, now one of the UK’s leading health cash plan providers. In those early days, it established itself as an innovator when it came to looking after the health and wellbeing of its members and local community.
In 1929 the Fund purchased three ambulances to help convey patients to the voluntary hospitals. Over the next 23 years this fleet would grow to 16 and transport more than 365,000 patients to and from the hospitals before being gifted to the NHS.
Medicash has been known by many names over its 150-year history including The Penny in the Pound Fund and Merseyside Health Benefits Council, before changing its name to Medicash as it expanded its regional focus to a national one.
In 2018 Medicash was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool for its longstanding commitment to charitable giving and contribution to healthcare. It now provides health cover to more than 300,000 policyholders from across the UK.
As part of its anniversary celebrations Medicash has refreshed its brand image to reflect the wider health and wellbeing remit of its services as it continues to invest in the technology-based features of its products. Medicash was the first cash plan to introduce a full-service claims app, as well as being the first UK based health insurer to introduce a skin cancer screening app.
It is also looking to build on its significant charitable giving from 2020. Over the last five years Medicash has donated more than £1.5m to charity, including over £500,000 last year.
A large amount of this funding was to support charities struggling with the impact of COVID-19. In addition to this, Medicash donated £110,000 of vital PPE to the NHS, North West Ambulance Service and local care homes in 2020.
Sue Weir, chief executive of Medicash, said: “Medicash has been committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals since its foundation in 1871. We are proud to work with organisations from across the UK to support and improve the health of their employees and look forward to doing so for many decades and even centuries to come.
“Marking 150 years in business is no mean feat and I would like to acknowledge the hard work of all the team at Medicash, both current and past, who have made this possible. Our anniversary year will provide a great opportunity for us to reflect and celebrate our past, at the same time as looking forward to driving the next innovations on our journey.”
And this week, Medicash appointed two new non-executive directors, Jonathan Brown and Jean Ellis, to its board. Ms Ellis works for Liverpool accountancy firm DSG.
With 30 years’ experience she is currently a corporate and audit partner at DSG, specialising in not-for-profit and third sector audit clients. She is also trustee for two local charities, a member of the Finance Committee at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and a board member at Liverpool Hope University.
Mr Brown joins with over 30 years of experience as a corporate lawyer. Operating out of Hill Dickinson’s Liverpool office, he specialises in all forms of the mergers and acquisitions market, including IPOs, development capital and joint ventures. He has acted for a wide variety of clients and has excellent experience in a wide variety of industry sectors.
He currently sits on the boards of Derwent Lodge Estates, Stobart Group and Stobart Air, whilst also being the chair of Hill Dickinson LLP and Praetura Group, a financial services investment and lending business.