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REPORTER INTERVIEW


Meet Dr Harry Brünjes ...


After graduating from the University of London and training as a junior doctor at Guys Hospital, Dr Brünjes worked at various hospitals including the Royal Sussex County Hospital. In 1985 he joined the Rottingdean Practice in Sussex and later became a senior partner before founding Premier Medical in 1995. In 2008, Premier Medical acquired its closest rival MLR - to form Premier Medical Group, the UK’s largest provider of medical expertise, taking a 15% market share.


Dr Brünjes was previously a Non-Executive Director of Professional Medical Finance, Chairman of the Personal Injury Forum at BUPA, Chairman of RTA Ltd, Kuro Healthcare, and the former Chairman of the Association of Medical Reporting Organisations. Currently Dr Brünjes is Chairman of Lancing College, Vice-President of The College of Medicine and is a board member at the English National Opera.


The couple, who have four children, also have a passion for property renovation, and spent 13 years restoring Ovingdean Grange, a grade II listed manor house which is one of the oldest and most historical residences in Brighton. In 2011, he sold the property to the actor and comedian Steve Coogan for £2.45million.


They are currently working on their second renovation project, following the purchase last year of Folkington Manor, a grade II listed country house in Sussex, built in 1843 near the site of a Manor which was recorded in the Doomsday Book, and has a colourful history. The £2.5million project is expected to be completed in October 2012. We speak to the enigmatic Doctor to discuss his business journey...


How did you make a start in the business world? I’m a qualified doctor, and my career started at Guys Hospital, London, where I trained as a junior doctor. In 1991 I started my own practice in Harley Street and shortly afterwards I spotted an opportunity to create a company which offered medical reporting and screening services. In 1995 I founded Premier Medical with the aim of being the lowest cost provider of primary medical services in the UK offering medical reports, life medicals, health screenings, private GP clinics, and occupational health services.


What inspired you to build a company like Premier Medical? I saw an opportunity. I realised it was scalable and I felt there was an opening in medical reporting and quickly put the idea into practice. I didn’t have a specific business plan, the company grew organically. It wasn’t a conscious move not to follow a strategy but I was a typical entrepreneur running around from dawn until dusk.


How does Premier Medical serve the public? Premier Medical provides medical reports to established brands including the RAC, the Metropolitan Police, the Co-Op, Aviva, the Royal Bank of Scotland, AA, Saga and many more.


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What is next for Premier Medical? In 2010, Premier Medical Group was sold to Capita, a leading FTSE 50 firm, for £60million. I remain chairman of the company and group medical direction for Capita. Premier Medical Group has a head office in Ludlow, Shropshire, and there are subsidiary offices in Reading, Lincoln and Coventry. Since 2010, the range of medical products available has increased to include occupational health, rehabilitation, repatriation, and off-shore medicine (oil-rigs) and Premier Medical Group has doubled in size.


What other business ventures do you currently have on the go? I currently have an investment fund, a property company, and a media start up. Last year, I founded Woodsta Investment Fund, which identifies pioneering healthcare companies for investment. Dr Newman’s Clinic, a British based firm which uses state of the art micro-wave technology to remove thread veins, has become the first acquisition by the Fund. I am focused on identifying new healthcare businesses which use cutting edge technology or state of the art techniques, and helping them to expand. I have also invested in The Good Care Group which provides care at home to the elderly, specialising in conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


What advice would you give to someone who might be thinking about starting up their own business? Get out of bed early and go to work. You need to put in as many hours as possible when you’re starting up a business. Start ups also always need to make sure that they have enough cash. There is always a risk of overdoing it, overtrading and running out of money. It’s crucial to remember that cash is king.


How do you juggle running a business with your personal life? I have been married to Jacqueline Storey, a former National Ballet Champion, and an accomplished choreographer, singer and dancer, for 32 years, and she has always been very supportive. From a young age, I juggled a career as a professional pianist alongside my medical studies, but eventually decided to take a step away from the limelight to focus on qualifying as a doctor. However, I still continue to play on a daily basis.


I am also interested in property renovation. My wife and I spent 13 years renovating a Grade II listed manor house in Brighton, Ovingdean Grange, which we sold to the actor and comedian Steve Coogan last year. Last year, I bought my second renovation project, Folkington Manor, a grade II listed country house in Sussex, which is a much larger project and will take 18 months to complete.


Any new initiatives for the future? I am vice-chairman of the College of Medicine, on the board of directors of the English National Opera and chairman of the independent school Lancing College. These posts effectively cover my interests in medicine, music and education.


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