NHS is to be franchised around the world in aftermath of Brexit

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Officials hope the money-making move will allow trusts to pump their profits directly into swamped front line services


The NHS is to be franchised around the world under controversial plans to raise £7 billion in the aftermath of Brexit, it has emerged.

Officials hope the money-making move will allow trusts and NHS boards to pump their profits directly into swamped frontline services.

Britain’s future after leaving the EU remains uncertain, as Prime Minister Theresa May continues to work towards a deal with the bloc.

Trade ministers have urged businesses to look at exporting more in the wake of Brexit, amid fears of a potential economic crash.

And now it appears health chiefs may also be asked to cash in on their knowledge and skills by offering their services across the world.

Officials hope the money-making move will allow trusts to pump their profits directly into swamped front line services

Officials hope the money-making move will allow trusts to pump their profits directly into swamped front line services

Healthcare UK – an agency of the Government that works alongside the Department of Health and Social Care – confirmed the plans.

But the move, reported by The Telegraph, has been met with criticism amid staffing shortages across the board, especially nurses.

Joyce Robin, from Patient Concern said: ‘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.’

NHS organisations have already exported more than £100 million worth of business across the world over the past two years.

For example, specialist eye hospital Moorfields, based in London, has branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

WHAT WILL A NO DEAL BREXIT DO TO HEALTH SERVICES IN BRITAIN? 

In a new briefing paper, the British Medical Association warns, in the worst case scenario, a no deal Brexit could:

• Cause real disruption for almost a million patients receiving treatment for rare diseases as the UK would be excluded from the European Rare Disease Network;

• Cause delays in diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients because the UK would have to source important radioisotopes from outside of EURATOM;

• End reciprocal healthcare agreements which could disrupt patient care and increase insurance costs. If 190,000 UK state pensioners currently signed up to the S1 scheme and living within the EU return to the UK it could cost the health services between £500 million and £1 billion per year;

• Weaken the UK’s response to pandemics and increase the chances of diseases spreading as we lose partnerships with key EU bodies, such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control;

• Risk the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which could see doctors leaving the profession and patients having to travel miles to receive care;

• See fewer doctors and other medical staff, at a time when there are already huge shortages of these roles, due to uncertainty over future immigration status and confusion around the mutual recognition of medical qualifications across the EU.

They boast of consultants who have trained or worked at the original hospital, and promise world-class treatment.

Deborah Kobewka, manging director of Healthcare UK, told The Telegraph, there is a much larger market than what is currently exported.

She said: ‘There has been around £100 million of NHS deals abroad in the last couple of years, but we have identified opportunities of around £7 billion.’

Ms Kobewka added: ‘If NHS foundation trusts do this they can put profits into frontline patient services.

‘But it also offers opportunities for recruitment and retention – many staff want to do some work abroad – as well as strengthening research. This is about showcasing our expertise to the world.’

She admitted Public Health England, Health Education England, NHS Digital, the Care Quality Commission and Nice are also discussing the plans.

It comes after trade ministers a fortnight ago revealed plans to boost Britain’s exports to 35 per cent of its gross domestic product after leaving the EU.

The Department for International Trade, set up after the 2016 Brexit vote, estimated that 400,000 businesses believe they could export but don’t.

The body said last year goods and services exported by British companies accounted for 30 percent of GDP.

Trade minister Liam Fox told a business audience in London that Brexit is ‘not the occasion to pull up the drawbridge’.

Britain’s deadline to leave the EU is March 2019, however fears have mounted in recent weeks that it will crash out of the bloc without a deal.

Brussels has dismissed parts of Theresa May’s proposed terms, stating that the Prime Minister cannot ‘cherry-pick’ terms Britain will agree to.

If the EU and Britain fail to reach terms, it could scupper plans of a 21-month transition period after officially leaving the bloc.

The number of NHS staff vacancies has increased and is expected to rise further by the end of year, figures released today show.

There were 107,743 vacancies in England at the end of June, up from 98,475 in March and bucking a downward trend seen in 2017/18, according to a quarterly report.

NHS Improvement said the rise, the result of increasing demand and high leaving rates, is forecast to continue throughout the financial year.

Independent think tank The King’s Fund warned growing nurse shortages ‘risk becoming a national emergency’. 



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