Viewpoint: Why we should be selling NHS primary care abroad

I think I have the answer to the funding problem of the NHS - sell it off.

Now just wait before dispatching the NHS Ninjas and hear out my argument. I may have mentioned in the past a few places that I’ve visited and from which the NHS can learn - the Ribera Salud Alzeera model is a favourite - however there are other places which can greatly learn from the NHS.

A recent trip to China revealed a healthcare system which is cash rich and primary care poor, a trip to Qatar showed the same. In both places the healthcare system is creaking because of an absence of primary care.

Here in the UK, if we do export our skills abroad it is usually in piecemeal fashion, person by person, which is lost to the system and delivering abroad.

Yet we know that our system skills are significant, we do things well in primary care and very efficiently. We do have a lot to offer other countries but we are so hung up on our own internal difficulties that we have no scale or pace or co-ordination to the process of export.

How we can export primary care abroad

Fortunately, there are some bodies on the horizon who may help. I’m betting that you have never heard of the European Connected Health Alliance or even the China Connected Health Alliance?

These related bodies offer a gateway to export. Admittedly their prime target is SMEs, and there are several trusts playing on the international pitch. However, primary care is in its infancy as an export item.

Perhaps when the dust settles on the general election your new GP federation or whatever might like to look beyond our shores.

After all, we gave the world football, cricket and railways, so why not the NHS?

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP and co-director of clincial strategy at Liverpool Health Partners. This article was first published on Inside Commissioning on 29 April 2015.

Photo: UNP

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