NHS should ‘think global’

NHS England organisations will be encouraged to reach out internationally to establish contacts and generate revenue.

Under new guidance to be drafted by a trade and industry body, NHS organisations will be encouraged to establish links with overseas health services and engage in international business deals to improve services and generate income.

Howard Lyons, chief executive of trade and industry body Healthcare UK, confirmed his team was developing guidelines to allow NHS England to give “clear direction” to healthcare organisations in terms of international involvement.

“We foresee a time after the next election when eventually every NHS organisation will be sharing its know-how internationally,” said Lyons.

Healthcare UK – a joint initiative between the Department of Health, UK Trade and Investment and NHS England – aims to have all NHS trusts engaging in business overseas in ten years time to generate more income for the services at home.

The guidelines will also encourage trusts to consider twinning with overseas hospitals to share expertise and establish closer links with foreign services. Lyons cited Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trusts as an example, with the trust having recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with the King Hussein Cancer Foundation in Jordan.

Lyons confirmed that Healthcare UK will spend the remainder of the year developing the guidelines, for implementation after the election.

The body has started the process by tasking Academic Health and Science Networks with conducting baseline reviews to establish the amount of international business NHS trusts currently engage in.