Clevelanders Shaking Up the Way Doctors Are Paid in Britain

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The largest city on Lake Erie is causing a stir in London, as healthcare provider Cleveland Clinic is plotting a foreign expansion that is promising doctors across the pond salaries unheard of in England.

A Whole New Ball Game

Private hospitals in the UK normally hire doctors employed by the publicly funded National Health Service as consultants in their spare time on a fee-for-service basis. That keeps costs down, as doctors only get paid when they are treating patients.

But Cleveland Clinic — a multibillion dollar healthcare powerhouse headquartered in Cleveland with affiliate hospitals in Florida, Nevada, Canada, and Abu Dhabi — is throwing that model out the window for its UK debut, offering hefty salaries to doctors at its soon-to-open 184-bed hospital near London’s Buckingham Palace:

  • Cleveland Clinic London is offering at least 270 specialists salaries of £300,000 ($413,000) to £350,000 ($482,000) per year for just two days of work a week or less — while allowing them to keep their jobs with the NHS.
  • One private hospital anonymously told the Financial Times that an expensive bidding war ensued that was akin to “the Premier League on transfer deadline day” — when soccer teams there drop big bucks on top-line free agents.

Health Scares: “By employing them directly for all their non-NHS work, the Cleveland Clinic is taking the financial risk of finding enough patients to keep the consultant busy,” Ted Townsend, an analyst at LaingBuisson, told the FT. Even though there has been a surge in private healthcare treatments in the UK during the last year, it is likely due to a backlog caused by the pandemic — not a change in consumer behavior.