There's good reason for the NHS to engage internationally | Rahul Agarwal

Rahul Agarwal

The NHS is admired across the globe. It is widely seen as an exemplar of universal health coverage, being ranked as the world’s best healthcare system by US-based think tank the Commonwealth Fund in its most recent reports. Due to its reputation, there is strong demand from international buyers to access its expertise, experience and innovations. Rahul Agarwal, export hub lead for healthcare and life sciences at the Department for International Trade (DIT) explains how Healthcare UK, a joint initiative of Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the DIT and NHS England, is here to support the NHS family in maximising this opportunity.

Why look internationally?

There are benefits to the NHS from engaging internationally. This includes generating revenue to re-invest into our patient services. However, it’s more than this. It is about enhancing clinical research and innovation partnerships and expanding reputations of some of our NHS world-class providers. It also gives opportunities to health professionals to exchange and expand their knowledge, supporting recruitment and retention.

What does the NHS export?

Healthcare UK has accounted for more than £100 million of NHS revenue over the last two years, although research by Healthcare UK estimates that the total market value accessible to the NHS could be up to £800 million each year. The NHS has developed partnerships around education and training, digital solutions, clinical programmes such as mental health and oncology, and co-designing health systems. Additionally, new challenges for middle income countries, including the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, primary care, and epidemiological risks present opportunities for the NHS to deliver value.

How we support the NHS

Healthcare UK helps UK healthcare providers do more business overseas. We use our network of trade advisors across embassies, high commissions and consulates in 100+ markets to promote, identify and realise these opportunities. Services include:

  • leading on country and sector advice and opportunity matchmaking
  • tailored support and guidance through our Export Catalyst programme, delivering personalised consulting support, training courses and online resources to the NHS
  • working together with DHSC and NHS England/Improvement to develop the NHS Long Term Plan’s concept of an ‘export collaborative’ – exploring the ways the NHS can collaborate around their innovations
  • promoting the NHS at overseas exhibitions, organising trade missions and facilitating government-to-government partnerships
  • enablers with DIT’s UK Export Finance, Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine teams.

Working together with NHS Confederation

Healthcare UK recognises the NHS Confederation as a key partner to realising these objectives, and we are building our partnership to deliver greater impact. Exciting work includes working together on more international content at NHS ConfedExpo in 2020, engaging with NHS Confederation international special interest group and greater visibility and coordination of our services to NHS Confederation members.

Rahul Agarwal is export hub lead for healthcare and life sciences at the Department for International Trade. Follow them on Twitter @tradegovuk

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