The $200m King’s College Hospital under construction in Dubai will seek to reduce the number of Gulf nationals travelling outside of the region for treatment and medical training, its chief executive has said.
The 100-bed facility is due to open in 2018 at Dubai Hills within Mohammed bin Rashid City under a joint venture between Al Tayer Group Dubai Investments and UK-based Ashmore Group.
“There is still a large amount of medical tourism out of the region, the GCC as a whole but particularly the UAE, and therefore there is an opportunity for us to provide elements of care here to minimise that amount of travel,” Neil Buckley, the recently appointed CEO told Gulf Business.
“That would save the government here a significant amount of money and provide better care for patients because they can get it closer to home.”
The hospital is planned to be one of the first in the region to provide liver transplants for living related patients, a procedure for which King’s London has seen a “significant number” of patients from Gulf countries.
It will also target medical tourists from the Gulf region, North Africa and further afield, said Buckley, who revealed talks are taking place with government health portal Dubai Health Experience with plans to match “the clinical excellence of King’s with five-star service”.
The facility could also add an academic element, in cooperation with the King’s teaching hospital in London.
Buckley said he was in talks with Dubai Health Authority and would meet the UK’s Royal College of Surgeons with an eye on opening a training hub in the region.
Simon Fraser, medical director of King’s College Hospital London, Dubai, said this could eventually mean medical students in the region would not have to apply for fellowships abroad to complete their training.
“If our project is a success there is the chance that in certain fields we might be able to complete that training even in the country, or at least some of it, and provide the specialist experience they seek by going elsewhere. So there is an opportunity there for us.”
Joining the new hospital will be two Dubai-based clinics, opening on Jumeirah Beach Road and in Dubai Marina in September 2017 and March 2018 respectively.
They will add to the existing King’s College Medical and Surgery Centre that opened in Abu Dhabi in 2014.
Buckley revealed if the hospital proves successful a second phase would add another 100 beds, further expansion also possible at the Abu Dhabi facility.
“Our aim is to have a minimum of 30 per cent of our staff UK trained but it is going to be a challenge,” he added. “It’s a big deal to make people move country but being a start-up helps as well, we’re starting to attract a lot of people excited by the adventure.”