We now have 12 different departments at OneWelbeck, including our Digestive Health and Heart Health teams, which are now, I believe, the biggest of their kind in the UK. We also have teams in Orthopaedics, Imaging & Diagnostics, Digestive Surgery, a surgery centre, and an Enhanced Breast Screening clinic. One of our new teams is Women’s Health, which, like all our other teams, has a dedicated clinic with any scans conducted on-site, and staggered appointments to ensure calm and privacy. The team is run by Professor Dame Lesley Regan, who is the former head of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Over the past year, we have also added an Ear, Nose & Throat clinic (ENT), which is run by Professor Shak Saeed, the clinical director of the Royal National ENT Hospital. Another addition to our offering has been the Skin Health & Allergy team, which encompasses a range of dermatologists and allergists to provide patients with the best possible care. We have also established an Endocrinology team, complete with 15 endocrinologists, as well as a Lung Health team that is now the biggest private respiratory group in the UK and has been very instrumental in the treatment of long Covid.
Each team is organised along sub-specialisations, which is exciting because healthcare in London has not traditionally been organised in this way, and it means that when a patient comes into one of clinics, they see the right clinician straight away. With Lung Health, for instance, this covers just about everything from lung diseases such as tuberculosis to interstitial lung disease, lung cancer, asthma and airway issues with sleep.
OneWelbeck is now the largest doctor partnership in the UK, and our model is so successful because every doctor in each department is recruited directly by the other medics in that team, who are all partners and invested in the business. The fact that every member of our medical staff has been selected by the other doctors on their teams is incredibly reassuring for our patients, as they are guaranteed to receive consistent and exceptional levels of care.
There is a great sense of pride within the hospital, as well as an enormous amount of experience, because so many of our clinicians have had leadership roles within the National Health Service (NHS) and they also have exceptional academic credentials. Being invested in OneWelbeck gives many of these highly established specialists the chance to consolidate decades of experience. They can develop the very best practice within their clinics, as they know what works and what doesn’t.
As each doctor is personally attached to the institution, they are deeply involved in its success, and completely committed to the comfort and ease of the patient journey. The most senior clinicians recruit members of staff that they know are the very best in their fields, which guarantees a unique level of patient service. The doctors at OneWelbeck spend a lot of time trying to find new ways to support and inform their patients too. For instance, our Digestive Health team has an app with 300 personalised videos of different procedures, which patients can watch before coming into the clinic. This simply wouldn’t be possible in places where the specialists so often change.
Then, of course, there is the fact that our specialist teams are located across nine floors of the same building, which makes it one of the most accessible centres for private healthcare. Usually, these services would be more fragmented and spread across multiple sites.
When the pandemic first started, we put the hospital at the service of the NHS, and our doctors made the decision not to charge the NHS for any contractual work we had done. Our other priority was to ensure that we could continue to deliver care to our patients, which we achieved by ensuring we had enough personal protective equipment in place for our doctors to treat our patients.
Like most other private facilities, we don’t treat sick Covid-19 patients, but we have developed a reputation as a private specialist in long Covid. For this, we have used a multidisciplinary approach across various teams, including Lung Health, ENT, Endocrinology, Digestive Health and Heart Health. I think the doctors at OneWelbeck are very aware of the longer-term implications of Covid and feel very strongly that, as the NHS is so busy dealing with acute Covid, there need to be more resources for those suffering with the longer-term effects of the virus. The teams have set up various resources on the subject, including a dedicated microsite and a YouTube channel that are available to the public.
We are fortunate to have an incredibly modern building, and hygiene has obviously been a priority. The hospital has its own air plant, so we have been running up to 15 air changes an hour, exceeding regulations, and this is something we will continue to do. We have also embraced numerous technological advances because of the pandemic, such as using dual-energy CT scans that enable us to provide a more detailed picture of lung damage.
The most fundamental change that will stay in place is the increase in online consultations, which means that people can be seen a lot quicker. It also ensures that our international patients have a lot more flexibility. For example, if you live in the Middle East, you can book an initial online consultation without having to travel. This has resulted in a delocalisation of healthcare, as we are able to see far more patients remotely.
Our aim is to be the highest-quality, most renowned clinic in London, and we will achieve that by continuing to expand. This will start with our Imaging & Diagnostics centre, which has been a huge success, so the challenge is to find more space so that we can do this. Our specialist teams work incredibly well, and I think we really have discovered a winning formula. Our ethos is simple – get the best doctors and allow them to develop outstanding clinics.
We are also very committed to implementing the latest medical breakthroughs, so our role as a leading private hospital is to turn academic research into new clinical techniques, which can pioneer throughout the private sector and the NHS. We have been busy building up academic partnerships and collaborations to ensure that we can give our patients the very best new treatments – not just in London, but the world.