Government encourages NHS hospitals to expand abroad
Prominent NHS hospitals are being encouraged by the coalition to open branches abroad. It is hoped they will bring in extra money for services back in the UK.
The scheme will be funded from hospitals’ private work at home, and the profits will be routed back to the NHS.
This is an extension of the Labour government’s “NHS Global” initiative, which Pulse, a health professional’s magazine, revealed last year had failed to secure a single contract within 18 months of its launch. They said this was despite having spent £75,000 on establishing and maintaining the project.
The Department of Health and UK Trade and Investment will launch the new programme this autumn. It will target famous hospitals like the Royal Marsden, Great Ormond Street, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and will aim to mirror the Moorfields Eye Hospital project, which in 2007 set up a new branch of the same name in Dubai.
Health minister Anne Milton is hopeful about the initiative. She said: “This is good news for NHS patients who will get better services at their local hospital as a result of the work the NHS is doing abroad and the extra investment that will generate.”
“This is also good news for the economy, which will benefit from the extra jobs and revenue created by our highly successful life sciences industries as they trade more across the globe.”
“The NHS has a world-class reputation, and this exciting development will make the most of that to deliver real benefits for both patients and taxpayers.”
But the initiative has its critics. Retired GP and anti-reform writer, Dr Kailash Chand, described it on Twitter as “privatisation by the back door”. He said the “NHS is being broken up and sold as a commodity in and outside England for profit. Bevan [the politician who helped launch the NHS] must be turning in his grave.”