Global network of NHS hospitals to exploit brand

Services to be sold to the Gulf, Brazil, India and China

Some of Britain's best-known hospitals are being lined up by the Government to export the "NHS brand" around the world and set up profit-making branches overseas to boost their incomes.

Under a radical plan to be launched this autumn, officials from the Department of Health and UK Trade and Investment will come together to act as a "dating agency" between hospitals that wish to expand overseas and foreign governments with a demand for British health services.

The move could see outposts of famous hospitals such as Great Ormond Street, the Royal Marsden and Guy's and St Thomas' appear around the world. Under the plans, all profits made by British hospital trusts abroad would have to go back into their coffers in the UK – and upfront investment could only come from the revenue they make from private patients. Areas of the world identified as key to the success of the project include the Gulf, where British medical brands already have high recognition, and China, Brazil, Libya and India. Some working in the health sector warn that at a time of significant financial constraints, hospital trusts should not be taking their eye off the ball in the UK by exploring potentially complicated and risky overseas investments. "The guiding principle of the NHS must be to ensure that outcomes and care for patients comes before profits," Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said. "At a time of huge upheaval in the health service, when waiting times are rising and trusts are being asked to make £20bn of efficiency savings, this is another concerning distraction. The priority of the Government, hospital trusts and clinicians should be NHS patients."

Officials envisage that some NHS trusts would partner with private companies that could provide the capital outlay for overseas projects and would take on the financial risk.

Already, Moorfields Eye Hospital runs an outpost in Dubai while Imperial has two successful diabetes centres in Abu Dhabi. A group of GPs along with Virgin Care and Serco are bidding as a consortium for primary care services in the UAE.

A new cross-government unit is being set up called Healthcare UK, which will act as a matchmaking service between British hospitals wishing to expand overseas and foreign governments, where demand has been identified by trade officials based in British embassies.

The move has, in part, been prompted by the success of American teaching hospitals expanding overseas. John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore last year opened a private medical school and teaching hospital in Malaysia and is involved in partnerships that include managing hospitals and providing clinical consulting in Turkey, Japan and Mexico.

The project stems from the belief that in future, patients in the Gulf as well as rich patients in developing countries, will prefer to be treated close to home rather than overseas. Fearful of losing the valuable private income that generates, the hospitals are acting before other private groups step in and fill the gap.

London is already a world-renowned centre for medical training and the hope is that British-trained doctors could be recruited to the new project without the risk of taking resources from the front line. Some of the Royal Colleges have been involved in early discussions about training and accreditation and this is expected to be expanded.

Recently British ambulance trust managers visited Libya to advise on emergency care. Trade officials believe there are significant opportunities for contracts to run or advise on all aspects of healthcare in the country, including scope for British hospitals to rebuild the country's secondary-care system.

"It's about the NHS ethos in a different culture," the Health Minister Lord Howe told The Independent, adding that, preliminary work overseas "has convinced us this is a model that will fly. We think this is the right way forward".

Confirming the announcement, his ministerial colleague Anne Milton added: "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.

"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."

An official from UKTI involved in the launch said it was part of the Government's drive to encourage areas of British expertise to expand internationally: "We have been slow to realise what an asset we've got in the NHS. Some of our brands such as Great Ormand Street and Moorfields are world leaders but in the past we have perhaps been too insular in not thinking about how we can exploit what we've got."

Chris Canning, medical director of Moorfields operations in the UAE, said it had been pleased by the success of its operations.

"We now have a turnover of £5m and a return to our UK operations of around £500,000 a year," he said.

"We are looking at expansion but we are very clear it will not compromise what we do in the UK."

Medical help: Britain's exported expertise

Where we are:

Moorfields Eye Hospital has established a unit in Dubai, modelled on the London hospital – but with local doctors who have been trained by Moorfields. It now makes around £500,000 a year which is ploughed back into UK services.

In 2009 Great Ormond Street Hospital signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health in Kuwait, where it pledged to share its experience and staff and to receive and treat Kuwaiti children with cancer. It now sends medical teams to Kuwait on a regular basis to provide assistance and expert clinical advice to Kuwaiti health professionals.

The Imperial College London has established the largest multidisciplinary diabetes facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where an estimated 25 per cent of the population suffers from diabetes. The centre was established as part of a framework agreement for mutual co-operation between Imperial and Mubadala Development Company and the model is expected to be expanded to other Gulf states.

Where we would like to be:

China

The Chinese Government is planning an ambitious role out of primary-care facilities (GP surgeries) across the country. This could provide opportunities for the NHS and private companies for consultancy services and training.

India

India has a booming private hospital network – and some British patients now travel to India for planned surgery. The Government hopes some NHS hospital "brands" could partner with local companies to get a slice of the growing market.

Libya

Much of the country's health infrastructure was damaged in the recent civil war – but Libya has huge oil wealth and is keen to rebuild and expand its healthcare sector. British companies and the NHS are well placed to capitalise on this.

Saudi Arabia

Moorfields is also considering an expansion into oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other hospitals could follow. Saudi Arabia is also keen on expanding its primary-care base.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin