The UK government has advised leading National Health Service (NHS) hospital trusts to open facilities abroad to fund NHS services in the country.
The UK Trade and Industry and the Department of Health (DOH) will soon introduce the joint scheme to link hospitals willing to expand with foreign countries which want access to NHS health services.
The UK DOH health minister Anne Milton was quoted by the Independent newspaper as saying the scheme would generate finance from abroad that would lead to better local hospital services .
"The NHS has a world-class reputation, and this exciting development will make the most of that to deliver real benefits for both patients and taxpayers," Milton said.
The scheme, which appears to be inspired by US hospitals, has, however, come under criticism.
The Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said that the NHS should be focusing on patient care, not profits.
"At a time of huge upheaval in the health service, when waiting times are rising and trusts are being asked to make £20bn of efficiency savings, this is another concerning distraction," Murphy said.
"The priority of the Government, hospital trusts and clinicians should be NHS patients."
The NHS hospital trusts such as Great Ormond Street, Royal Marsden and Moorfields Eye Hospital are planning to establish franchises across the globe to generate profits.
Image:The Department of Health, Whitehall, London, England.Photo: Courtesy of Arpingstone.