Intended for healthcare professionals

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Will expansion of the NHS abroad benefit UK patients? Yes

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 02 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:e8493
  1. Philip Leonard, director
  1. 1Healthcare, Ernst and Young, London SE1 2AF, UK
  1. pleonard{at}

The new NHS mandate calls for hospitals to set up more profit making branches abroad. Philip Leonard says this will bring new revenue to the cash strapped service, but Allyson Pollock (doi:10.1136/bmj.e8496) says that promoting trade in healthcare over universal access benefits no one

One of the quirkier parts of the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic games featured dancers dressed as doctors, nurses, and patients in NHS hospitals. It was met with baffled responses from some of the press, which saw it as celebrating Britain’s socialist heritage. Others expressed concern that it marked a new era of entrepreneurism: the NHS was now open for business and was preparing to export its national treasures to rich foreigners. Inevitably, concerns have been raised that this will be done at great cost to NHS patients because the best of the service will seek foreign gold and UK patients will be left with second rate healthcare.

These worries are misplaced. For a start, investors abroad are really interested in importing services from only the NHS’s mega-brands. These are specialist centres such as Great Ormond …

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