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NHS will “outsource” treatment to India, Chairman of UK-India Business Council reveals

The National Health Service will soon begin “outsourcing” treatment to India in a bid to cut costs, reports say.

Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt, Chairman of the British India Business Council, revealed that some 20 health trusts were already in talks with healthcare providers in India to set up a variety of businesses in the sub-continent as a way of raising much-needed funding for the NHS.

But Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said he thought the NHS should not be going into business with companies in India, and feared the contracts could end up going a stage further.

He told the Daily Mirror: “If trusts do not have enough money to treat patients in Britain, they should be getting help from the Government. I am extremely concerned that the next step will be patients being flown to India for treatment because these trusts think that it could save them money.”

The Department of Health denied the claim, and said patients would not be flown to India for treatment.

In an interview with the Health Service Journal, Ms Hewitt said she expected up to 12 NHS trusts to have signed agreements with Indian providers by 2015.

“Our ambition is to get as many [NHS trusts, health companies and charities] there as we can”, she said.

“I would certainly hope by 2015 we will be able to say… here is what they are doing and selling and here are the benefits that are accruing both to Britain and to India.”

The Government is said to be encouraging UK businesses to set up partnerships abroad.

Healthcare UK was set up last year to link UK health providers with clients overseas, as a way to make cash from the well-known NHS brand.

So far plans have been agreed for King’s Health Partners, a partnership that includes King’s College London and three London NHS trusts, to set up clinics in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

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