Private Patient Units (PPUs) within the UK National Health Service (NHS) off er a service like no other. This integrated model of care aims to provide the best of both worlds for patients and clinicians: NHS scale, specialism, research and governance delivered with private-sector service standards. It is because of these beneﬁ ts that we have seen the NHS PPU model growing quickly, outstripping other private hospitals in the market.
As a result, patient demand has increased considerably over the past five years. This growth means we can increase provision and access for all patients, and NHS Trusts have responded by expanding their facilities and introducing new pioneering technology. For example, at The Royal Marsden we are looking forward to opening our new diagnostic and treatment facility in Cavendish Square in central London, and St Mary’s Hospital, which is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, is opening a new ‘hybrid’ theatre suite to treat patients with blood-vessel problems.
Importantly, some NHS PPUs have a unique integrated model in which all revenue generated from private care goes back to the Trust. This symbiotic relationship aids the sustainability of such Trusts and also means that all patients benefit.
Governance is increasingly a priority for patients and their consultants – and rightly so. We need to ensure that patients receive safe, high-quality treatment that adheres to the very best regulation. This is particularly important for accessing drugs that might not yet have received approval by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
NHS Trusts are regularly inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The UK Government body publishes the ratings they give to Trusts, highlights those that are performing well and makes recommendations for those that need to improve. Integrated Private Care NHS-PPUs are held to the same rigorous standards – for example, at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, where we recently received an ‘outstanding’ rating. This transparency in standards empowers patients to choose the highest quality of care, delivered safely by the best teams.
Close links with research enable clinical teams at NHS PPU models to deliver treatment based on the latest pioneering advances in healthcare. At The Royal Marsden, we have over 800 clinical trials open at any one time, a unique partnership with The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, and the UK’s only NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. This places our clinicians at the forefront of cancer advances.
These relationships are echoed at other Trusts across the capital and the UK. We see leading NHS Foundation Trusts partnering with the UK’s top science research centres to deliver major advances, which are then translated into treatment.
King’s College London Hospital recently received approval to provide chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, an approach that uses the body’s own immune cells to fight cancer. Along with the ICR, we treated the first patient in the world with pioneering new technology, which uses microscopic clusters of bubbles and liquid droplets to enhance the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to tumours.
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children opened a brand-new medical facility: the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Diseases in Children. Aiming to bring together pioneering research and clinical care under one roof, clinicans are driving forward new treatments and cures for seriously ill children in the UK and around the world. These national and international networks of researchers and clinicians encourage the sharing of knowledge and best practice.
NHS Trusts are known throughout the world for their expertise, with some installing satellite centres in international markets. Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust opened a service in Dubai in 2007. Having treated more than 150,000 patients, it has now started delivering paediatric ophthalmology services for other hospitals in the region. The Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist centre for the treatment of heart and lung disease, has lectured in Egypt, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.
Internationally renowned, and nationally treasured, the NHS in the UK strives to provide safe, compassionate and leading care. Private Patient Units within NHS Trusts inherit these values, and patients can feel reassured coming to the UK that they will be treated with the latest treatments at the highest standard.