• Alder Hey seeking commercial partner to help attract private patients
  • FT believes it can grow commercial income to £5m
  • Plans also drawn up to expand on consultancy work in the Middle East and China

A specialist children’s trust has drawn up plans to attract more fee-paying patients from overseas.

Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust is seeking to launch a procurement process to find a commercial partner to help attract private patients and “facilitate expansion of services at scale”.

The Liverpool provider has seen a steep increase in private patient income in the last two years, generating almost £400,000 in 2017-18.

Yet this is significantly less than the £55m received by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children FT, a specialist children’s provider in London.

A procurement proposal for the Alder Hey project, published within its April board papers, said: “The corporate position of the trust is that there is a critical need to achieve sustainability and that includes the ongoing ability to invest in NHS services. Therefore, latest strategic thinking of the trust is to secure an additional £5m contribution from commercial activity in its widest sense.

“Many of the most prestigious and successful NHS trusts have adopted such a model and there is every reason for Alder Hey to at least explore the potential of such a partnership initiative.

“Such an expanded non-NHS and international patient service will require sustainable capacity to be made available for outpatient, theatre and inpatient services. There is a need to manage the risk of releasing sufficient capacity to grow non-NHS and international patient activity without compromise to, and meeting the demands of, NHS patient services.”

A trust spokesman told HSJ: “The ‘private patients partnership’ is an early consideration by the board of any potential that may be developed in future for using our global expertise and knowledge to identify fee-paying patients, but only if this work enhances the provision of our NHS services and in no way works to their detriment.”

Meanwhile, the trust is also planning to launch a “Department of International Child Health” in November, which will build on existing partnerships in Dubai, China, Malawi, and Nepal.

A separate report within the same board papers said: “There has been progress with some business development opportunities particularly with Al Jalila Hospital, Dubai, but it is believed that there is great scope for significant expansion with the resultant benefits of a major income stream and enhanced standing of our organisation.

“A clear business plan for commercial activities is required. Many activities overseas (including humanitarian, research and education) have taken place and are ongoing, driven by committed individuals. There is, however, only one formal partnership existing between Alder Hey and a developing country partner.”

It said the new department would look to develop international health partnerships; humanitarian mission operations; commercial/business development; education and training; and research and innovation.

In Dubai, the trust has fulfilled a strategic advisory role to support the commencement of services, which has generated around £175,000, and last year, it was asked to undertake a design review of paediatric services for a new hospital in China.