Private firm plans hospital with ‘five-star hotel’ service

An artist's impression of how the facility could look
An artist's impression of how the facility could look
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A PRIVATE healthcare firm which provides “five-star hotel” service is set to develop its first hospital in Scotland – overlooking the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Circle Healthcare has submitted plans to establish the £30 million clinic on the site of a ruined stately home on the southern edge of the Capital.

The 80-bed hospital would feature fine-dining and organic food in an attempt to attract patients to the private market.

Details of the proposed development will be submitted to councillors on the planning committee this week. The hospital is expected to be modelled on the firm’s flagship open-plan hospital in Bath.

Circle Healthcare intends to rival other private hospitals including Spire Murrayfield and BMI Ross Hall in Glasgow.

The hospital would be located at the Edmonstone Estate close to another new development of 200 homes, a hotel and a major supermarket.

The hospital is expected to offer a range of cosmetic and weight-loss surgeries, private cancer treatment and dozens of clinical procedures, including hip and knee operations.

Circle Healthcare said it is committed to establishing its first site in Scotland in Edinburgh. The move comes as private firms compete for a dwindling number of fee-paying patients due to the impact of the recession on middle-income families – private insurance has dropped by 10 per cent in the past two years.

Earlier this month the Nuffield Hospital in Glasgow began offering free hotel stays for the partners of patients.

William Laing, founder of private health market intelligence agency Laing & Buisson, told the Evening News firms have moved towards the luxury market in an attempt to stand out from their competitors.

But he said the key to success would be in attracting the top local consultants to the hospital: “At the moment Spire have a monopoly on the private healthcare business in Edinburgh, but Circle will be looking for a good site and an opening into that market. This luxury experience might help marketing but Circle will primarily be wanting to attract good local consultants.

“They will want to develop a relationship with local private practicing consultants and encourage them to bring patients to their hospital.”

Circle Healthcare – which is run as a John Lewis-style partnership where employees own a stake in the firm – hit the headlines late last year when it took over the failing NHS Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

The fact that the Edinburgh development will be on green belt land is expected to lead to resistance from local residents.

Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, who also represents the Liberton/Gilmerton ward on the council, said: “There will be a number of people with concerns over green belt land. It will be down to the developers to prove they’re making an enhancement to the area.