Five minutes with Andrew Barker, CEO, Phoenix Hospital Group

The Harley Street Medical Area is made up of an array of fantastic businesses, organisations and practices.
Each month, we spend some time getting to know one of the people that call Harley Street home.

This week, we’re meeting Andrew Barker, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Hospital Group.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at Phoenix Hospital Group?

I have a fantastic job covering an incredibly broad range of interesting and varied responsibilities. Phoenix Hospital Group is a growing, dynamic and patient-focused provider of high-quality private healthcare and my role helps ensure we give the very best care to our patients whilst building strong relationships with our varied stakeholders. I lead our superb team to deliver our vision of making Phoenix Hospital Group the boutique hospital group of choice and to grow the group both organically and through acquisition. I am very much engaged in seeking out new opportunities, working with our consultants and giving our staff the ability to do the best job they can.

Describe your average day

There is no such thing as an average day – like everyone, the role has adapted during the pandemic with a vast increase in virtual meetings but I have managed to continue to come in most days and I much prefer to see people face to face rather than on Zoom.

Most days will include meeting our consultants and visiting the clinical services departments. I am always keen to focus on the patient experience and we spend a lot of time reviewing patient feedback and learning from it. I am often found in one of our clinical sites, among colleagues. I also work closely with finance and marketing, I like to keep an eye on the numbers. However, those of us in healthcare know all too well that any day’s plans could be thrown at a moment’s notice by something that needs complete and total focus. In healthcare, we have to plan for the unexpected.

How did you get to where you are today?

I have worked as hard as possible and had some excellent mentors. Early on in my career, I had a boss who believed in me and whenever he gave me a task, I did it and I did it well. That gained trust and each time I delivered, I was relied and depended on more and more. I have also been lucky enough to work with some fantastic teams – particularly at Phoenix. I am pretty good at problem solving and have always had a good grasp of the financial side which had stood me in good stead throughout my career.

How has Covid-19 impacted your organisation?

Massively. It ruled our lives for over a year, but it does feel like the world is starting to think beyond Covid-19. I am immensely proud of the support Phoenix was able to give as part of the independent sector response to the pandemic and for all of the hard work, commitment and professionalism of all of my colleagues in doing their bit to support the fight against Covid-19.

Like everyone, we have had to look at things differently. Our support teams such as finance, bookings and marketing have been able to work from home and keeping people motivated, engaged and involved when we were apart was so important. I think there is now an acceleration of the use of technology within healthcare not only with the move to virtual consultations but an increased reliance on online interaction with patients and referrers. We at Phoenix continue to seek ways to innovate in this vital area.

Above everything, it has brought us closer to the NHS. We developed superb relationships in London and Essex while treating over 12,000 NHS patients over the last year. Continuing to build upon our relationships with our NHS colleagues remains very important to Phoenix.

What do you like most about being based on Harley Street?

I love Harley Street. I love the people; I love the community. You can walk down the street and bump into colleagues and friends old and new. Sit in a coffee shop around here, and you can guarantee someone you know will wander by. There is a competitive element, but there is also a unique collegiate backbone to the place, which I think is a real credit to all in the area. It brings something very special to our collective approach to healthcare.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Harley Street area?

The last year has shown us the importance of using technology and being prepared. In the joined-up approach between the NHS and independent sector we have shown what a difference can be made through people working together. Harley Street is built on brilliant care given by brilliant people, day in day out. Telling everyone about the range of services and the commitment of the people who work here is so important both in the UK and internationally. We have to support this with clinical outcomes and other data and there is a job to be done to get the quality message across on the world stage.

How does the HSMA support your business?

I believe that the Harley Street medical area is stronger together and the HSMA Partnership drives this message. The Harley Street area has a strong identity and I am personally delighted that the HSMAP is championing the quality and facilities we have at Phoenix Hospital Group, not to mention the people who work so hard here.

How could a visitor spend their time here?

There is a lot to do. It’s not just about excellent healthcare. There are some great places to eat, some great public spaces and exceptional shops. Sit in any of the local parks and watch the world go by – we are so lucky to have Regents Park on our doorstep. The Wallace Collection, which is like going back in time, is just down the road and a great place to spend a lazy afternoon.

Any particular recommendations or hidden gems?

I think the look and feel of Marylebone Lane really works and sitting outside Caldesi or the Marylebone Hotel on a warm summer’s evening is a super way to unwind. Without a doubt, Daunt Books is the best bookshop in London and well worth a visit, and I’ve been saved many times by a last-minute trip to Ortigia on Marylebone High Street. The flower stall outside of Waitrose is excellent, the florist there is always helpful and cheerful.
If you could describe the HSMA in three words what would they be?
Exciting. Collegiate. Dynamic.