‘We recognise that India and UK have things to learn from each other’

Sir Malcolm Grant, Chairman, NHS recently visited India on a UK healthcare trade mission. Raelene Kambli met him to understand the lesson that India can learn for the NHS model of healthcare and what Sir Grant would offer India as part of the his trade mission

Sir Malcolm Grant, Chairman, NHS recently visited India on a UK healthcare trade mission. Raelene Kambli met him to understand the lesson that India can learn for the NHS model of healthcare and what Sir Grant would offer India as part of the his trade mission

Give us an overview of UK healthcare system and what lesson India can learn for it?

Sir Malcolm Grant

In 2014, the US-based Commonwealth Fund ranked the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) as the leading health system in the world for the use of innovative solutions to deliver the highest quality care. And this care is available to all our citizens free at the point of delivery and paid for from general taxation. The UK has developed some of the most innovative healthcare services and systems in the world over the past 70 years, supported by academia and innovative commercial healthcare companies.

The UK has expertise to support every aspect of healthcare systems and services. The UK creates breadth and depth of expertise that no other country can match. The UK offers one of the best clinical services in the world spreading across the whole spectrum of primary and community, medical, surgical and mental health services. The UK’s healthcare education and training is one of the best in the world. The UK is in the forefront of transforming healthcare services using digital solutions such as telecare and telehealth, m-health using mobile technology and e-health using the analysis of large datasets in the UK.

Now, as the emergence and adoption of new services and technologies in India reach record levels within health and care as well as the country begins its creation of 100 smart cities, we are delighted to bring to India NHS hospitals and healthcare services as well as the companies that work with the NHS to show what can be achieved by working with smart services and systems.

What should India do to increase health insurance penetration?

Private health insurance is a comparatively small part of the market in the UK. But what makes our insurance companies work are ease of access to trusted services, careful attention to costing and pricing and an emphasis on supporting subscribers to stay healthy. If state insurance is to increase, this will need an increase in funds for government services.

What is your opinion on India’s GDP spending on healthcare?

I am amazed by what has been achieved in government services with only around one per  cent of GDP being spent on these services. Clearly, this investment will need to increase if the vision of universal healthcare is to be achieved.  The risk of an uncoordinated development of private series is that it will not run as efficiently as it could and the five per cent spent on out-of-pocket and private healthcare will not be enough to meet the needs even of those who can afford private healthcare.

Among the emerging economies, where do you see India’s healthcare system?

India has much of the infrastructure and workforce to provide an excellent system of primary, secondary and tertiary care. Some of your best states have better healthcare than many in the region. But it will need investment of time, resources and training to bring all states to the level of the best and then to bring it to the level of developed economies such as the UK.

What are the reforms that the Indian healthcare system urgently requires?

This is something for India to decide. But the UK stands ready to work with you on improving the infrastructure, developing effective clinical and health promotion services, training the future workforce, using smart technology to improve services and running systems to ensure the quality of care is increased.

What opportunities do you see in India?

There are opportunities for the NHS and UK healthcare related companies to work with Indian companies and governments based on the UK’s long experience in providing a comprehensive healthcare system. This has already been shown by the major Indo-UK Institutes of Health programme where a private Indian company has partnered with Kings College Hospital to create NHS standard clinical services and training institutes in several states around India. We share much in terms of history, culture and the 50,000 doctors of Indian origin who help make the NHS a success. The UK has expertise to share with India in creating smart healthcare: designing, creating and managing healthcare facilities, producing and running excellent clinical and health promoting services, training staff to the highest standards, underpinning this with efficient information systems that help patients and clinicians to manage the patients care and ensuring that the quality of services is maintained at the highest level

Whilst this is a commercial offer, we recognise that both countries have things to learn from each other.

What is your purpose to visit India?

I am delighted to bring representatives of the UK system to show what can be achieved by working with smart services and systems. Our delegation consists of leading NHS hospital and healthcare trusts and select pioneering British companies whose innovative solutions are delivering results across health and care economies both in the UK and around the world. We want to put PM Modi’s comment about the UK and India being an unbeatable combination into practice. This means securing commercially viable deals between the UK and Indian companies and governments.

I am also meeting ministers and senior government  officials and some of the leading lights in Indian healthcare such as Dr Prathap Reddy and Dr Devi Shetty to understand how best we can partner with the Indian healthcare sector.

What are your learnings from India?

I am impressed by the high level of skills and services provided by the leading private healthcare companies in India. The NHS can learn from some of their efficient methods of providing treatment to large numbers of patients. At the same time, I can see just how much we could help improve many of India’s services if we can promote collaboration between the two countries.

What kind of alliance would you like to offer India?

I am looking for commercial opportunities for UK organisations to be joint venturers or suppliers to the Indian market. But I am also keen to promote research and clinical practice collaborations.

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First published on: 08-07-2016 at 08:40 IST