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Hospitals as anchor institutions: how the NHS can act beyond healthcare to support communities

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 14 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2101

Opinion: Hospitals could be anchors for an economy focused on well being

  1. Richard Vize, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. richard.vize{at}

The NHS is exploring how it can use its local economic clout to benefit population health, finds Richard Vize

UK hospitals are exploring their potential as anchor institutions to use their financial, employment, and asset muscle to support local economies and tackle social determinants of health.

Neil McInroy, chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), which works to achieve social justice and effective public services, explains the idea: “An anchor institution is a large organisation that is embedded in a place and isn’t going anywhere, employs many people, spends a lot of money on services, and has large land and investment holdings—big buildings, multiple sites, large pension pots.”

It mainly includes public sector institutions such as universities and councils but can extend to enterprises such as airports, football clubs, and longstanding employers.

McInroy emphasises hospitals’ substantial economic clout: “They are all across the country, they employ thousands …

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