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Centre of Excellence

03.08.21

London boasts a diverse healthcare offering, from free at-the-point-of-care NHS services through to concierge private medical practices. Richard Pisarski of the Mayo Clinic reflects on why the capital is a medical force to be reckoned with

Healthcare in the UK today is second to none. While the NHS which covers primary, secondary and tertiary care, continues to go from strength to strength, some NHS facilities are also now branching out to offer services for those wishing to seek private treatment, either via self-pay or through insurance options. These range from private rooms, or wings embedded within existing NHS facilities, to stand-alone, purpose-built NHS private hospitals.

London’s high concentration of private health option works in tandem, complementing the NHS, seeing patients both domestically and internationally. Historically the private sector has provided fast-track access to patients who might prefer to see a particular consultant, or in the rare cases where NHS options were simply not available. During the pandemic, private hospitals, equipment and staff were handed over to the NHS to assist with routine and complex surgery, working to reduce the waiting list backlogs that resulted through lockdown.

Going forward, we can anticipate that the private sector will continue to play a vital role in assisting the NHS inworking through what is now over a year’s worth of waiting list backlog.

During lockdown, we also saw rapid changes in how healthcare was being delivered to patients through flexible business models, much in the same way as other industries reacted and adapted to COVID-19. Key developments that accelerated, included the use of video and telephone consultations to enable patients keep in contact with their doctors, as well as the use of telemetry at home to record key vital signs such as blood pressure or oxygen saturation, and the increased use of apps to help patients monitor their status at home.

While the easing of lockdown restrictions has seen the private sector open up again, for London, this is an exciting time of change with new clinics entering the area, including Mayo Clinic Healthcare with its new facility on Portland Place, providing access not just to excellent physicians here in the UK, but also access to specialists in the US.

We have also seen in the last few years an increase in concierge medicine, and a focus on looking after the individual as a whole. The typical model for concierge medicine is one where the patient pays either an annual or monthly fee, in return receiving rapid access to care, and sometimes including round the clock direct access to their doctors.

Some concierge medicine also includes a move away from episodic treatment - where a condition is investigated and treated only when it occurs - towards a focus on prevention and identifying issues early and before they arise. An approach where maintaining health and wellness through more frequent interventions, is preferred to waiting until an event actually occurs.

We can expect to see continued partnership and coordination among the private sector and the NHS. The future is indeed very bright.

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