HOSPITAL bosses in Sheffield are exploring proposals which could see them opening branches across the world.
The Government is lining up Britain’s best hospitals to export the ‘NHS brand’ overseas - and Sheffield doctors today described the idea as offering a ‘win-win situation’.
Under the scheme, to be launched this autumn, government officials will act as a ‘dating agency’ between hospitals and foreign governments, with profits to come back to individual NHS trusts.
Sheffield Children’s Hospital - which has a national reputation as one of only four centres in England specialising in child care - is keen to explore the plan.
The opportunity comes as the hospital prepares for a £40 million expansion of its site on Western Bank.
Dr Jim Bonham, clinical director at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said the hospital had developed a global name for its expertise in treating rare conditions.
He said: “The trust would welcome the opportunity to offer these services to patients in other countries - provided this can be done to the same high standards that currently apply within the NHS and that the links and the funding which results is used directly to benefit those who currently access the service.”
He added: “The provision of high quality medical care for patients with rare diseases is an international effort and Sheffield Children’s Hospital has a proud record of ground-breaking medical treatment that can make a significant contribution to healthcare delivery throughout the world.
“As an example, the development of modern forms of testing and IT can bring the early recognition of life-threatening disorders to a wider population, regardless of their location.
“The trust is currently considering a number of ways in which these services can be offered to the benefit of both the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire as well as those overseas - this can be a win-win situation.”
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, which was last year voted as the best NHS trust in northern England, may also be able to exploit the proposals.
Chief executive Sir Andrew Cash said: “Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is already internationally renowned for many services it provides.
“In light of this announcement we will be considering future opportunities to provide our expertise further afield but only on the basis that it brings benefit and reinvestment into the NHS locally.
“At this point of time we have no firm plans in place.”
How IT WILL WORK:
BRITISH hospitals looking to expand abroad are thought to have the best chance of success in the Gulf, where UK medical brands already have a presence, or in China, Brazil, Libya or India.
London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital already runs an outpost in Dubai while Imperial College London has two diabetes centres in Abu Dhabi.
Under the proposals, all profits made by NHS trusts would have to come back into their coffers at home, and up-front investment could only come from revenue they make from private patients.
The ideas have been criticised by the Patients Association and Labour politicians, who said the scheme would shift focus away from service delivery at home.