hospital wants medical tourists
Health chiefs’ bid to lure ‘out-of-town’ patients to ease cash crisis
CASH-STRAPPED health chiefs are exploring new tactics to attract more patients from outside Peterborough to the city’s £289 million superhospital.
Anyone in the United Kingdom has the right to choose to go to any NHS hospital they want for treatment with these hospitals able to boost their funding by treating more patients going in for routine surgery.
With Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust battling with a predicted £34.3 million budget deficit this year, bosses want Peterborough City Hospital (PCH) to be the first thought in GPS’ minds when they recommend where their patients get treatment.
Their pro-active approach is mainly focused on attracting patients from Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and other parts of Cambridgeshire.
But patients can also be referred from further afield and hospital bosses plan to approach city hotels to strike a deal where they would offer cheaper rates on rooms for their patients’ relatives.
Despite the bid to widen the net to get more patients, hospital chiefs have guaranteed that nobody from Peterborough itself will face disruption or delays to get treated at PCH.
Nigel Hards, chairman of the trust, said: “I think a lot of people don’t know they can elect to go wherever they want and there are a lot of potential patients we are targeting in areas between hospitals.
“For example, if somebody is based between Peterborough and Lincoln, we want to make Peterborough the place that the patient chooses to go.
“We have got Rolls Royce facilities and we have to make people know we are offering a Rolls Royce service.
“Hotel rooms are something we are looking into at the moment. We have family rooms in the hospital, but it would be great if we could do cheaper deals for people to stay while their relatives are in PCH.”
The superhospital opened in November 2010 and is one of the most modern health facilities in the country.
One of the trust’s non-executive directors Martin Chilcott, who has a background in marketing, has been tasked with the challenge of promoting these facilities to GPS, so that they make the patient referrals which could be lucrative to the hospital.
As part of the approach, representatives from the trust are making regular trips to surgeries; GPS are being invited into the hospital for monthly meetings; a website for GP information has been created and more than 1,000 leaflets have been sent out to surgeries promoting PCH.
Mr Hards said that while no targets have been set for how many patients they want to attract from outside the city to use PCH, its modern facilities give them an advantage against other hospitals in the market place.
He added: “Every hospital is trying to do the same thing but luckily we have a new facility here that I think makes us a desirable option.
“It is a lot easier for us to sell PCH to somebody considering their options than it was to sell Peterborough District Hospital.
“Every hospital wants to attract as many patients as possible - we are all competing with each other in that way. Luckily, we have got state-of-theart facilities to offer.
“Our patient feedback has also been much better since the move. By far the most valuable marketing tool is word of mouth and we hope patients will be telling others to come to PCH.”
GPS who attend the monthly meetings now held in PCH and take part in the new bi-monthly forums are given presentations by the hospital to tell them what services are on offer .
For example, the most recent fo- rum in December focused on the care and treatment on offer for kidney patients at PCH in the hope that GPS will be encouraged to refer patients with renal problems.
The trust has also produced four GP newsletters in the last year promoting services at the hospital.
A trust spokeswoman added: “They are sent quarterly to hundreds of GP surgeries across the region electronically. The trust also has a secure website that GPS can access for clinical information.
“Our business development team are also visiting GP surgeries on an informal basis to highlight new services and foster better relationships.
“More formally, the trust’s business development team have attended GP educational days within GP practices across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire.”
rolls royce facility: Nigel Hards is looking to attract more patients from outside Peterborough to use the hospital.