King’s College Hospital London opens its second medical centre in Dubai
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King’s College Hospital London opens its second medical centre in Dubai

King’s College Hospital London opens its second medical centre in Dubai

King’s is also getting ready to open its first full-fledged hospital in Dubai soon

King’s College Hospital London

King’s College Hospital London today inaugurated its Marina Medical Centre, its second medical centre in Dubai – the other facility is located in Jumeirah.

The Marina centre is the first facility built to British NHS standards in the Marina area of Dubai and it comes a few months before the expected opening of a 100-bed full-fledged King’s hospital which is being constructed in Dubai Hills.

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We caught up with Ian Smith, Chairman of King’s College Hospital London (NHS Trust) and Christian Schumacher the CEO of King’s College London Hospital UAE to understand the direction in which they intend to steer the healthcare provider in the region.

What is the USP of this new medical facility in Marina?

 Ian: One of the problems with modern healthcare is overtreatment, where people can get ill by what they receive by way of medicines or treatments that they don’t need. We’re keen therefore to introduce evidence-based medicine that customizes care around the individuals. We’re keen on bringing particular clinical expertise to solve specific demographic diseases locally including obesity, diabetes, bariatric surgery, or breast cancer – which is a big problem everywhere, but is a particular problem here.

Christian: We focus heavily on established clinical pathways to treat patients in an extremely close collaboration with our partners at King’s College in London. You’ll get the same treatment from a family medical specialist here as you would in the UK.

(left to right) Christian Schuhmacher, CEO of King’s College London Hospital UAE, Andrew Jackson, Consul General at the British Embassy, Dubai and Ian Smith, Chairman at King’s College Hospital London, NHS Trust

Tell us about the upcoming KCH hospital in Dubai Hills

Ian: It’s a 100-bed facility and will be a much bigger opportunity for us to bring our specialities from King’s in London and deliver that to the people within the region.

Christian: We want to give our patients easy access and these clinics [at Jumeirah and Marina] serve those people who don’t necessarily want to go to a hospital in case they have a cough and a cold.

Are facilities like yours geared towards serving as medical tourism centres?

Christian: We’re very fortunate to be in close collaboration with the DHA on the medical tourism field. Certain aspects like liver pathways and metabolic initiatives will attract from the wider region of GCC countries and then beyond. In the future, one could also start their treatment in Dubai, get a tertiary operation, for example, in London and then follow up in Dubai.

The opening of the Sheikh Zayed Centre for Liver Research at King’s College Hospital London in 1979

What are some of the best practices from the London facility that you have imported here to Dubai?

Ian: In the Seventies, Sheikh Zayed gifted money to us which we used to develop our liver unit in London. We do nearly a liver transplant a day. Neurosurgery and spinal injuries and complicated brain cancers are our specialities. Haematology is also very exciting because that’s at the forefront of genomics – advanced therapies, changing cellular structure of disease is something we’re very keen to develop at King’s and bring to the Middle East. In the long term, we are very keen to develop and bring to the region fetal medicine where we will have the ability to treat birth defects. In London, we have a separate building which is focused on fetal medicine. One of our other major specialities is major trauma. In London we have a helipad, so if you have a road traffic accident in the whole South East of London you will be brought to King’s because we manage trauma. That’s not something we’d do immediately in the hospital here in Dubai, but that’s something we’d like to talk to the health authority about doing in the long term.

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What will be the composition of the staff at the King’s facilities here in Dubai?

Christian: A third of the staff in our hospital will come from the UK. That said, it’s not just a copy paste from an NHS hospital. We will have the rest of the staff from the Middle East. The goal is to combine the clinical excellence of King’s London with five-star Dubai hospitals.

Ian: We’d like for specialists coming out of London to practice for some time in Dubai. We’re keen to make that happen and our clinicians are keen to make that happen. Later on, we’d like to develop programs here that would allow doctors to go to London to be trained and mentored by specialists in London.

Will Brexit impact the healthcare in the UK and is that one of the reasons that King’s is establishing its presence here in the Middle East?

Ian: If Brexit happens, some of us hope very strongly that we can continue to maintain a very close relationship with our European partners. But under either scenario we have to develop our traditional relationships – the relationships that Britain has in the Middle East and especially with the Trucial states is very deep and profound. Even if Brexit wasn’t happening we would be very keen to develop relationships and platforms for healthcare in the region. Brexit makes it even more urgent. But we would be doing it in any case. 

How has the government of Dubai and the UAE facilitated an environment conducive to setting up medical facilities within the region?

Christian: The government of Dubai, as shown by the presence of H.E. Humaid Al Qutami of Dubai in the clinic this morning, is extremely supportive of King’s establishing itself as a healthcare provider in the region. We have discussions with the government as to which clinical services we can provide which aren’t available widely in the country by way of our specialities. We feel extremely well supported by the government of Dubai and it clearly shows how Dubai is striving to be the happiest city in the world using healthcare to reach that goal.

Ian: Many Emirate clinicians have trained in the UK and at King’s. We will continue to encourage a very strong physical connection between our staff at King’s and the people of the Emirates.

Are there any specific targeted campaigns you have in mind for the UAE?

Ian: We would be focusing on a number of areas including breast cancer, fetal medicine, diabetes, obesity and bariatric surgery. We are world leaders in a bariatric surgical cure for Type 2 diabetes.

What are the expansion plans for KCH within the UAE and the region?

Christian: All our focus now is getting all our founding blocks in place to be successful here in Dubai. From there with a successful Dubai and Abu Dhabi business, we will then have a look at other opportunities in the region.

Ian: We’ve got to make the two clinics and the upcoming hospital a success. Once those are successful, which we are determined to make them, that would give us a great platform to explore opportunities within the UAE and the broader region.


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