UK's Moorfields Eye Hospital seeks Abu Dhabi expansion

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World-renowned ophthalmology centre Moorfields Eye Hospital is in talks to expand the brand in Abu Dhabi, its CEO told Arabian Business.

The clinic, which opened its first overseas branch in Dubai in 2006, said it may grow its services in the UAE capital and Sharjah but is unlikely to expand to any other market in the Gulf, said John Pelly.

“In Abu Dhabi we do have a presence at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre… we provide the ophthalmic care to the diabetic patients that attend those two centres [in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain] but we don’t have a surgical facility in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“That’s part of the reason for our desire to establish a surgical presence as well of course to start to penetrate the Abu Dhabi market itself for the non-diabetic market. Imperial College is very keen and supportive of us to set up a surgical facility there [but] we are looking at a few options,” he added.

Moorfields, one of the oldest and largest centres for ophthalmic treatment and teaching in the world, is also in talks to collaborate with University Hospital Sharjah, added Pelly.

The clinic, which trains over half of the ophthalmologists practising in the UK and a significant number of those overseas, was highlighted by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) last year as a successful example of franchising a well-known British hospital abroad.

The British government launched Healthcare UK in 2012 to act as a consultant for hospitals and potential overseas clients in a move aimed at increasing funds into the health service.

While there is a significant push to expand NHS hospitals in other parts of the world, including the Middle East, Pelly said it is unlikely many others will follow Moorfields’ example. 

“You have to be very highly regarded to start within your own country and you need to be well-known internationally. There are a few – Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Royal Marsden and The Royal Brompton Hospital – but I very much doubt that more than half a dozen will be able to cut it in a place like this because it’s a different environment,” he said.

“Will others follow? I think some might but I am not aware of any specific plans that any other hospital may have to do this,” he added.

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