By World Healthcare Journal-
The NHS is acknowledged as being one of the leading health care systems in the world and Manchester’s Christie NHS Foundation Trust is one of the world’s leading cancer centres. WHJ Publishing Director Steve Gardner sat down with three of The Christie’s leading lights, Professors Nick Slevin, Cathy Heaven and Peter Trainer to find out how they are taking NHS expertise internationally.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust is Europe’s largest single site cancer centre and has pioneered many of the global advancements in cancer research. The Christie is constantly striving to improve patient experience through ensuring that all of its activities are centred around patients and their families and this is achieved through research and education being fully integrated with clinical service delivery.
The Christie has consistently been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the national health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission. National patient surveys have also demonstrated the value and trust patients and their families have in the care they have received with over 97 per cent recommending The Christie as a place of treatment.
The Christie has one of the world’s largest radiotherapy departments with 15 linear accelerators and extensive experience of developing digitally networked satellite facilities. The first NHS high energy comprehensive proton beam therapy (PBT) service has recently been established on The Christie site.
SG: Why did The Christie decide to start working overseas?
NS: The Christie was looking for an opportunity to share our learning and expertise, particularly in terms of ensuring that patients get access to the latest technology and best possible treatments.
PT: We decided some years ago that the best way to do this would be on a commercial footing, in order to allow any income to be used to the benefit of NHS patients.
We identified three main areas of work, consultancy, bespoke multidisciplinary education and training packages for workforce and finally making provisions for international private patients to come to us for advice and care.
SG: What kind of work have you done so far?
NS: We have conducted clinical observerships with Kazakhstan; given advice on radiotherapy procurement to clients in India, we’ve signed a contract with a Chinese client for a new oncology service, we’re advising a major teaching hospital in Ireland and we’re in advanced discussions with number of far east and middle eastern clients.
SG: How and why did you decide to pursue these partnerships?
PT: It’s taken around 3 years and we’re still in the foothills, but we saw massive opportunity to improve our international brand.
NS: We have the expertise, reputation and scale to do it well. We’re now the largest standalone cancer centre in Western Europe and it was really important for our reputation to deliver a quality product. The Christie has been rated as an outstanding institution by regulators.
SG: How is the NHS brand viewed internationally?
PT: The NHS has a reputation as one of the best healthcare systems in terms of effectiveness but also value for money. Clients are turning away from other models towards an NHS model because they want to implement a system of real benefit to the patient in a cost-effective way.
SG: What types of partners do you work with?
CH: It’s important to develop a partnership and relationship with clients that share the same ethos as The Christie. We keep the patient at the heart of everything we do.
NS: We have worked with both government and private clients and there are a whole range of different business models under which we can operate; the main focus is that the patients get access to the best possible care.
PT: We have principles from the outset, such as not taking responsibility for the clinical management of local patients, we do not invest financially in international ventures. Most importantly we make sure that our international work does not impede core NHS responsibilities.
SG: What types of advice do you offer?
NS: From a clinical perspective, we are in a good position to give advice on the entire patient pathway, but the type of advice that we give is dependent on the needs of the patient/client.
CH: We can offer advice on the number of staff that they need and the skills they require to develop and optimal workforce, but ultimately the client must take responsibility for recruiting a workforce.
PT: In some cases clients want design advice on their build projects, which is essential as it relates to clinical services and the environment- the right building design can be very influential for patient experience and outcome. We also advise on equipment procurement and all the support services available to ensure patients get treated safely and effectively.
CH: Our School of Oncology aims to educate the next generation of clinical leaders across the world. We provide international partners with access to a unique environment of the highest quality. Our approach provides the opportunity to experience outstanding clinical services, cutting edge research and excellent education through observerships, fellowships, clinical and academic programmes”
SG: Would you ever allow an overseas client to use The Christie brand?
NS: The Christie name has huge value, it’s been in existence for hundreds of years and we have an international reputation for innovation. We are recognised as the most outstanding single service hospital in the country by CQC – Care Quality Commission.
PT: Clients must comply with our standards absolutely because of the reputational risk. For hospitals from other countries, international work has simply been to lend their brand or name to the local hospital of that country and that income for those institutions has been huge. Our model is much more on the ground, benefiting patients, real clinical services, but most important of all we would have to be certain that the quality of their services were on a par with our own.
CH: Our reputation is not just in clinical services, but also in research. We are one of the top 10 cancer centres in the world. We have patients coming from far and wide to access our innovation and expertise.
SG: Why should international clients choose The Christie?
PT: Here at The Christie, we are passionate about the care we provide to our patients and are delighted to be able to work with international partners to share our expertise. Our aim is to develop high quality, long term relationships that drive transformation in oncology services.
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