West Country Health Care

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by West Country Health Care's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from West Country Health Care is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Susan Colley, founder and
Beginning in the health insurance world as a sole trader
in 1991 and then created as a limited company in 2006,
Westcountry Health Care is an insurance broker – primarily
for private medical health insurance, but also for other forms of
insurance, including travel insurance, group income protection,
burial plans and pet insurance, among others. Despite being
located in the quaint, seaside resort town of Torquay, Westcountry
Health Care’s services span the whole country; indeed, some of its
clients are from abroad. Key to the company’s ethos is going the
extra mile for their clients, offering a free and genuinely bespoke
service that caters to the client’s precise needs – something made
easier by the fact that the founder and director, Susan Colley, was
once a distinguished nurse. What follows is her exposition of
the company’s journey, its values and its services, as well as a
source of inspiration for new small businesses.
As an insurance broker, I feel it’s necessary to be clear, honest and trustworthy
with my clients. Going the extra mile, as clichéd as it sounds, is a crucially important
component of the service I offer. I not only find the right insurance package; I also
have a veritable knowledge base of the best consultants in the country for specific
kinds of ailment, and will seek them out accordingly when one of my clients is
afflicted with health problems. It’s also extremely important to me that my client is
realistic about pricing. I will advise heavily against insurance that I believe will result
in my clients starving themselves in order to pay for it.
From nursing to insurance brokering
Many things make Westcountry Health Care distinctive, but what really distinguishes
both me and my company, however, is the journey I took to get here. My background
story – namely, my former professional life as a nurse – is what provides my
company with a distinctive essence. In some sense, I feel like my role then and my
role now are not dissimilar; in both cases I was helping to save people’s lives and
maintain their health. In practice this entails – for example – calling their provider
company, sorting out their claim and ringing the consultant’s secretary to find out
the next appointment. The end goal is much the same for nursing: bringing my
client back to normal health and restoring their peace of mind.
It all began with my training in nursing at the Royal London (then called just
the London), which provided my career with a springboard. After becoming
disillusioned with my time in London, I decided to travel to Sydney, whose
healthcare system placed high value on London nurses’ skills. It was on that basis
that I quickly got a job at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney in the late-1960s.
»Founder and director: Susan
»Founded as a sole trader
1991, incorporated as
Westcountry Health Care Ltd
in 2006
»Based in Torquay, Devon
»Services: Insurance broking,
primarily for private medical
»Run by a former state-
registered nurse
»Winner of Best Individual
International PMI Intermediary
»Highly Commended for Group
PMI Intermediary
»Highly Commended for
Individual PMI Intermediary
Westcountry Health
From that period onward I also got
work in Germany, France, Wales and
Scotland, until I finally worked at
Wellington Hospital. It was in this latter
stage that I met my husband when on
a trip to visit my parents in Devon.
Because of the lifestyle discrepancy
between me as a nurse and my
husband as a GP, I decided to make a
career move towards a more secretarial
position, especially when my child was
born. In a weird twist of fate, I began
working for a firm that sold private
medical health insurance. It was during
my time working with Norwich Union,
though, that I realised that I myself
could sell insurance products – except
that instead of selling just one type, I
could be the broker between various
options, and help the client choose the
best option for them. Since then I’ve
learnt an enormous amount, and now
have an office in Torquay that caters to
clients worldwide.
Determination to continue
In 1998 I faced arguably my biggest
challenge yet: my husband died,
leaving me alone with our 14-year-
old daughter. Circumstances then
compelled me to put everything into
my business. To this end, I sold my
property and procured for myself a
garden office, allowing me to be a
parent to my daughter and to work
somewhere in the order of 20 hours
per day on top of that.
Through toil and utter determination,
I eventually brought my vision to life: a
company that brokers private medical
health insurance catered to the exact
and specific needs of our clients, taking
care of them even after a purchase
has taken place. Furthermore, because
I’m a former nurse, I can provide
an environment in which people
feel comfortable talking about their
illnesses and problems – all of which is
done without charge. So unique and
high quality are my services that I rarely
advertise; most of my custom is instead
achieved via referral. Many brokers
do charge, and are bewildered as to
why I wouldn’t, but I personally see no
In terms of contemporary problems
and challenges, much can be said.
What exactly is required in order
to comply with GDPR, for instance,
is not sufficiently clear. Indications
are provided by the ICO, but much
of this is a matter of interpretation.
Nevertheless, we treat all of our clients’
data extremely sensitively – everything
is encrypted, safe and invisible to
unwelcome eyes. Another problem
– also political in nature – is Jeremy
Hunt’s continued support for the lack
of tax relief for over-60s and 65s who
took out medical health insurance.
Predictably, and contrary to the goals
of Jeremy Hunt himself, many elderly
people decided to return to the
National Health Service instead, causing
yet further strain on the system.
These problems though – however
difficult and burdensome – are wholly
surmountable. My expectations for the
future are bright, and my contacts in
the industry will remain undiminished.
As far as I understand things, it’s
onward and upward for Westcountry
Health Care.
Katie and Millie, my
faithful companions
I am constantly
amazed at the
help and service
given to us ...
Nothing is too
much trouble
and the service
is impeccable.
Health Care]
should be a
known beacon
to all other
would-be health-
Small really is


This article was sponsored by West Country Health Care. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy