FINANCE: The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust, Britain’s biggest specialist cancer trust, is planning to increase its private patient income by 20 per cent this year.

The London trust is expanding the turnover of its private work from £45m last year to £54m in 2011-12, with a further increase of £8.1m anticipated in 2012-13.

It is now embarking on a marketing plan “focused on the capture of new markets both within the UK and overseas”, which will include online and newspaper advertising.

The figures are revealed in the three-year plan submitted to Monitor by the £237m-turnover trust.

The 2011-12 total would take the proportion of private turnover at the Marsden up to 25 per cent, lower than its 30 per cent private patient cap, but a higher proportion than any other trust in England.

The Marsden has recently opened the Granard House private inpatient wing after a £6m renovation. However, director of finance Alan Goldsman said there was still “demand over capacity” for its services.

Mr Goldman said the Marsden’s private work was nothing “new”, but the trust had recently seen a “big increase” in demand.

“We operate in a competitive environment with other providers in London plus those in Europe and America,” he said. “But Royal Marsden is a recognised brand and it is one of the top performing organisations of its kind in the world.”

Mr Goldsman cited the trust’s use of positron emission tomography imaging as being typical of the areas in which it excelled.

“What we tend to do best in the UK is not proving the technology itself but proving that the treatment is better than alternatives and that it’s better value,” Mr Goldsman said.

The Christie Foundation Trust in Manchester, England’s other large specialist cancer trust, is also considering expansion plans.

Under its model, the trust would open branded treatment and diagnostic centres across the country. The capital for this would be offered by the Christie’s joint venture with the firm HCA, which runs the trust’s private patient unit.

Other foundation trusts looking to expand private work include Chelsea and Westminster, which plans to market specialist private work in bariatrics, plastics and paediatric surgery if the private patient cap is lifted, and Cambridge University Hospitals, which is opening an IVF unit for private work.