It’s time we got our money’s worth. Despite my scepticism of the image portrayed by Danny Boyle of the NHS it’s clear that British healthcare is admired globally and rightfully so. It make’s me proud as a British trained doctor and as a citizen.
But I’m a strategist. I see an opportunity. We have to make the most of it.
Today came the announcement that British hospitals will be advised to leverage their brands abroad for private practice and investment. The plan being that we can use this money to invest in the care of patients in the NHS without spending any taxpayer money since these foreign practices will be funded through the private practices of NHS institutions.
I applaud this move. I have constantly remarked that innovation will allow the private sector to work seamlessly with the public sector and this is just one example.
The NHS is running out of options when it comes to funding and care quality. It’s sucking money from our budget like a black hole and its unsustainable. NHS institutions are increasingly in the red and whatever you may think, less money= poor care and no money = no care. We need a solution and I’ve advocated the role of a moderated private sector as a winner. The role of Circle at Hinchingbrooke NHS trust is one.
US and European hospital groups have for a while been exploiting their brands in the form of medical tourism and only recently has Moorfields Eye Hospital, an institution I’ve had the good fortune of working with. Moorfields Dubai has been profitable for the last three years and the money is used to fund the care of their NHS patients in the UK.
I can guarantee that there is demand for British born services particularly in the gulf region and from many parts of the Far East. These will be patients who will happily pay a premium for our services which are world class.
I can already hear some groups calling for the cliched fear of profits over patients care. Utter rubbish in my humble opinion. The sole reason private providers can be competitive is because they provide excellent care. Those who can’t, don’t. To allay any further fears the government must take a pro-active role in the regulation and overseeing of private firms but it is because they have a profit incentive that they can be innovative.
We must encourage collaboration between the private and the public sector and if it’s NHS trusts that can diversify across both then we will start a process that will sustain our NHS for many years to come.
We’ve built a brand. We’re proud of it. Let’s use it and look after ourselves for a change.
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Dr Saif F Abed
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd