Scottish doctors warn English NHS against rush to seek profit abroad
SCOTTISH doctors’ leaders have warned against the “creeping commercialisation” of healthcare south of the Border after the Westminster government revealed that NHS hospitals are to be invited to set up profit-making branches abroad.
Some of Britain’s best-known hospitals, such as Great Ormond Street, the Royal Marsden and Guy’s and St Thomas’, could take part in the initiative to raise funds for patients at home and promote the international profile of the health service.
Critics said the scheme, currently only proposed for England, would put pressure on hospitals to create overseas investments when their priority should be treating local patients.
The initiative has also been criticised by patient groups and opposition politicians, who say hospitals should concentrate on patients, not profits.
Westminster health minister Anne Milton said the project would benefit both UK patients and the British economy.
She said: “This is good news for NHS patients, who will get better services at their local hospital as a result of 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.”
A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association Scotland said: “We are pleased the NHS in Scotland has not followed the reforms of the NHS in England, which has allowed the creeping commercialisation of healthcare, widening access for the private sector.
“BMA Scotland welcomes the collaborative approach to healthcare we have north of the Border, compared to the competitive emphasis that is emerging in England.”
Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “We have protected the health budget in Scotland to deliver a first-class service to patients.“The Scottish NHS is distinctive and has developed in ways appropriate to Scotland. In fact, our NHS is increasingly becoming a centre of excellence that other countries refer to and learn from in terms of clinical excellence and patient safety.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The guiding principle of the NHS must be to ensure that outcomes and care for patients come before profits.
“At a time of huge upheaval in the health service, when waiting times are rising and trusts are being asked to make £20 billion of efficiency savings, this is another concerning distraction.” Officials from the Department of Health and UK Trade and Investment will launch the scheme this autumn, with the aim of building links between hospitals wishing to expand and foreign governments seeking to access British health care services.
Upfront investment could only be drawn from income received from private patients, and profits made abroad would be channelled back to the UK.
The proposal was reportedly inspired by hospitals in America. David Stout, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said it was “absolutely right” for the health service to generate income.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east