Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Exporting NHS expertise overseas for commercial benefit

Can't decide how significant is today's story about the establishment of a new Gov't agency to link world renowned British hospitals with countries overseas. There has certainly been a lot of hot air expended over the issue. I suppose the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital at Gobowen could be considered an example of a world class Foundation Trust hospital which has an international reputation. So this issue could have a local interest for me.

In principle, I can see the potential - assuming all that is said about the high quality of our NHS is justified. Its not even a new idea. It actually builds on the last Labour Gov'ts plans to establish what former Sec. of State for Health, Andy Burnham's referred to as 'NHS Global' - the aim being to exploit the NHS's commercial potential overseas. But I certainly need to know more about how such a plan would work in detail before committing to it wholeheartedly. Seems to me that the private sector or overseas Gov't would need to put up the finance. Not sure why some are so outraged by the idea.  No-one objects to the free movement of doctors and nurses across international boundaries, (our NHS would collapse without it) so why be concerned about the free movement of expertise - which is what we are talking about.

Today's announcement certainly puts an interesting perspective on Danny Boyle's tribute to the NHS at the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Today that looks like a massive marketing exercise, playing to a watching world. Not sure that I can see this proposal taking off in a big way though, but could be wrong about this. All we cannot allow is for it to be a distraction from delivering quality healthcare services in the UK. No reason why in should do. But I do anticipate bucketloads of mindless scaremongering. On balance I'm rather supportive of the proposal.


Anonymous said...

I'm against privatisation of the NHS.

However I am fine with this proposal for as long as:
1. Not a single penny of my taxes is used in setting it up.
2. Not a single penny of my taxes is used in any negligence cases.
3. Not a single member of staff that I pay for through taxes works the odd session there or 'goes on secondment'
4. Any money made off the back of the NHS brand should be given back to that trust/hospital. Not to some obscure fund in the cayman islands.
5. Salaries for the expert surgeons should be similar to the UK. I don't want to see a mass exodus of experts that we've trained, leaving to these places.

If this generates money for the NHS then why not.

But I agree with you Glyn - I can't see a single Welsh hospital doing this. Only handful of specialists hospitals will be able to do so. The proposals are very vague at this point

Although it would be great to see words like Hywel Dda or even Betsi Cadwladr used in Dubai!.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the introduction of the 'market' in the English NHS has given the burocrats and middle managers created under the NHS bloatation of Nu-Labour a job to slot into. It does not mean that it's a job that needs doing or gives an indication of future success. It's a bizarre idea that 'St Thomas's hospital is a brand that can be sold abroad, given that their reputation is based on clinical excellence. That excellence is available through all the top medical journals and symposiums of the globe. Those who matter are the clinicians, not the logo above the operating theatre which they currently work. By definition the NHS has no sellable intellectual property, and the branding wheeze a form of reverse osmosis where sales reps from pharmaceutical companies can influence the budget holders of the NHS under an umbrella of foreign promotion. If some suit in Tunbridge and Malling NHS Trust thinks he can sell skills abroad he should get a P45 and set up his own consultancy. Stop sucking the taxpayers udder. Sceptics would conclude the policy forum contains too many former press officers from SmithKlineBeecham looking for a risk free ego trip inclusive of an expenses paid flight to Orlando. More sensible Conservative MPs would conclude that if someone has time for this nonsense then that is at least one NHS salary should be scrapped.

Anonymous said...

I am Anon 11.28 and after thinking about it I've gone off the idea. If the NHS name is used, surely these will risk the good name of our health service?

Why not go the whole way and allow foreign security firms to be called "British Army" or "Royal Welsh"??? It's essentially the same thing!