NHS encouraged to go global

 Renowned NHS foundation trusts in England will be encouraged by the Government to establish new facilities abroad in measures to increase profits.

Proposals by the Department of Health and UK Trade and Investment will see high-profile hospitals such as the Royal Marsden and Great Ormond Street create branches abroad to boost funds.

Profits from the overseas facilities would then be reinvested back into the NHS.

The plans, which are set to come into force later this year, have been criticised by the Patients Association who called them concerning.

“The key and only focus of an NHS hospital should be to provide treatment to patients on the NHS,” said the Association’s Michael Watson. “Any moves which would see commercial ventures, which are naturally going to be important for hospitals because they need to use them to raise revenue, would simply result in the attention of the hospitals being taken away from the core purpose – to treat patients in the UK and instead be focused on these hospitals abroad.”

Under the plans, Healthcare UK will identify trusts wishing to expand into new countries and find clients who wish to use the services. Funding for the ventures would come from the private sector to establish the facilities.

London’s Moorfield Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street already have facilities in Dubai. But critics have argued that other hospitals are not in a position to provide services overseas, and any profits raised would be minor compared to the £100bn annual running cost of the NHS.

Plans to globalise the NHS were first outlined by Labour back in 2010. However, Jamie Reed, Shadow Health Minister, said the proposals were further measures to commercialise the health service.

He said: “At a time when staff are losing their jobs and waiting times are rising, the Government’s priority should be sorting out the mess it has created in our NHS.

“Under David Cameron we’re seeing a rampant commercialisation of the NHS. He needs to get a grip and start focusing on patients, not profits.”