According to the FT, cancer treatments have replaced orthopaedics to become the single biggest earner for private hospitals in London. London has a strong international reputation for specialist cancer expertise, and more private hospitals are being built. But this comes at a time when revenue from international patients is declining.
Using data published in LaingBuisson’s Private Acute Healthcare Report, the article states that revenues in the £1.55bn London hospital market, which includes BMI, HCA and Bupa as well as private patient units in NHS hospitals, fell almost 3% in 2017 because of a decline in overseas patients.
The article says that the 25 private hospitals and clinics in London have been hit by a decline in patients from the Middle East, despite the fall in the pound that should have made medical tourism in the UK more attractive. It suggests that a perception that London is more expensive than other cities combined with falling oil prices has resulted in countries such as Kuwait and the UAE trying to restrict treatment in the UK.
The LaingBuisson report shows that those overseas patients that are coming to London are increasingly choosing the 12 private patient units run by NHS hospital trusts because of their lower fees and global reputations for specialist excellence.
The FT article quotes Ted Townsend, author of the LaingBuisson report, saying that competition for London is also coming from South Korea, India and Singapore, which have been expanding their private healthcare services, as well as traditional rivals such as the US, Germany and Switzerland.
For a more detailed analysis of the medical travel sector in the UK, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.