A new era of private healthcare at Noble’s Hospital is on the horizon, as proposals are announced for a major updating of facilities and management next year.
The plan involves the temporary closure of the private patients’ unit (PPU) and suspension of private medical services for at least a year from 1 January 2019. It is proposed work will then begin to upgrade, refurbish and redesign the premises and administration to provide a modern, attractive and profitable range of private services.
The Department of Health and Social Care has planned for a three month notice period so that consultation with stakeholders can take place and so that patients and professionals can make arrangements to complete scheduled treatments and plan for their needs in 2019.
During the transformation, nurses, healthcare assistants and administrative staff on the PPU would be offered equivalent roles elsewhere in Noble’s Hospital.
The DHSC wishes to develop a fresh long-term proposition for its private medical services, possibly in conjunction with a third party provider, and with an eye to satisfying the substantial local market for private healthcare.
The proposed closure is expected to produce savings of just over £200,000 in one year, partly as a result of redeploying staff from the PPU to wards and theatres in the hospital.
The envisaged new private medical service will have ambitious income targets, with profits from it earmarked to contribute to the sustainability of the National Health and Care Service (NHCS) and to invest in other areas of need.
This announcement does not affect any other service provided by the DHSC in the Isle of Man.
DHSC Minister David Ashford said:
‘While the savings are welcome, they are not the driver or a central consideration of this proposal. A temporary closure will allow us to drive forward with a bold new model for future private practice hosted at Noble’s Hospital, delivering a modern fit for purpose offering for private patients. We know there is substantial but as yet untapped scope for attracting more private activity, which could provide a valuable income stream to support other NHCS services. By creating a more attractive environment, more patients are likely to opt to have their private treatment here in the Island.’
Minister Ashford added:
‘We have been looking at private patient units and their business models in the UK and will use that research to inform what would work best here, while delivering the best solution for our Island’s needs. We’re going into this process with entirely open minds – no decisions have yet been made as to what the new unit will look like, but I can give an assurance that it will be modern, well-governed and will operate on a sound commercial footing.’
If the closure is confirmed, detailed planning will commence for the transfer of staff to other divisions and the various upgrades that will be necessary. Opportunities will be explored to partner with an experienced, proven operator of private medical services in a public sector hospital, capable of commissioning and refurbishing facilities, and potentially, implementing a new operating model.
The PPU opened within Noble’s Hospital in 2003. In recent years, DHSC income from private medical services has been falling. Reviews of the potential private healthcare market in the Isle of Man have led to the decision being announced today.