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NHS ‘brand’ to be globally exported in bid to raise £7bn post-Brexit funding

The government is looking to export NHS expertise across the globe as part of an effort to boost funding and investment post-Brexit.

Up to £7bn of opportunities will be targeted over the next 10 years, with the NHS’s expertise set to be central to the plans as part of a new government support service.

The Healthcare UK Export Catalyst will enable the NHS to access global healthcare export opportunities, with worldwide spend in the sector growing at 7% a year.

NHS bodies have already won over £100m in export business over the last two years with the support of Healthcare UK, but it now wants to go one step further in order to build a “strong brand” and showcase “great British healthcare services.”

The chair of NHS England, Sir Malcolm Grant, said the new Export Catalyst will “further enhance the service available to NHS trusts in developing their export capabilities, so they can reach a wide range of international markets.”

“In the next year, the mission will be closely focused on providing a showcase for great British healthcare services, building a strong brand across the globe and realising the amazing export potential of our world-class health system,” he explained.

Plans to export the NHS brand across the world were first drawn up back in 2012.

According to the Telegraph, officials are now in talks with the CQC and NICE to determine whether they can sell their expertise abroad to countries that are trying to strengthen their healthcare regulation and assessment of new medicines.

The paper reported that hospitals and health watchdogs will be encouraged to set up ‘franchises’ in dozens of countries, in much the same way that the BBC gains major income from its commercial BBC Worldwide arm.

Some examples of this are already taking place, with Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS FT opening an eye centre in Dubai in 2015 and the South London and Maudsley NHS FT establishing a joint venture with an Abu Dhabi-based medical centre. More recently, Northumbria Healthcare FT and The Christie NHS FT struck a deal with a Chinese real-estate firm to support the building of a world-class hospital with a cancer centre in the Fuzhou Province.

However, the plans have drawn some criticism, with some expressing concern over staff shortages.

Joyce Robin of Patient Concern told the Telegraph: “This would be all very nice if we had a surplus of staff to go and share their expertise around the world, but the NHS is actually scrabbling to treat its own patients, because there is such a dire shortage of nurses. I think the idea is ridiculous.”

But Deborah Kobewka, managing director of Healthcare UK, told the Telegraph that these plans will actually help plough back profits into the frontline, as well as offer opportunities for recruitment and retention and strengthening research.

These new proposals come two weeks after the Department for International Trade launched the UK Government’s new Export Strategy, which hopes to increase exports as a percentage of GDP from 30% to 35%.


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