Global healthcare provider creates new 'super-speciality' cancer centre in London

Up to two thousand jobs are to be created in a major new healthcare investment in London which will see the creation of a ‘super-speciality’ hospital focused on cancer treatment.

Developed by health giant VPS Healthcare Group, the new cancer centre will be created within the historic grade II listed Royal Masonic Hospital in Hammersmith, which closed in 2006. It will open in 2017 with a bed capacity of 150, supported by around 2,000 staff in jobs ranging from admin, support and service roles to leading specialist healthcare professionals

The hospital will be the first private facility in the UK to offer Proton Beam Therapy* – a type of radiotherapy that uses sub-atomic particles to attack cancer cells with less damage to surrounding tissues than conventional radiotherapy. The treatment is particularly suitable for treating complex childhood cancers and tumours in areas such as the brain, head and neck*.

VPS Healthcare is one of the leading healthcare providers in the Middle East and India, with a particular focus on cancer care.  The new London hospital represents a major investment for the company and is its first entry into the UK market.

The investment has been welcomed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson who last year launched MedCity, an initiative to drive forward life sciences research and development, entrepreneurship and commercialisation in England’s greater south east.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “This is tremendous vote of confidence in London’s thriving life sciences sector as well as the skills and talent of our amazing healthcare professionals. London is a world leader in medical sciences and through MedCity we are working to generate the jobs and growth that will propel this important sector to even greater things.”

VPS Healthcare owns a network of hospitals, medical centres, pharmaceutical manufacturing operations, an international pharmacy retail chain and medical support services, and currently employs over 7,500 people.

VPS Healthcare’s Founder and Managing Director Dr Shamsheer Vayali says: “The UK has one of the strongest and most productive medical research sectors in the world, contributing to patient well-being as well as supporting breakthroughs in science and driving economic growth. It has a worldwide reputation for excellence in innovation within its universities and is recognised for producing world-class scientists and clinicians.

“VPS Healthcare has been encouraged by the UK Government’s ongoing policy to support health and pharmaceutical companies, and we believe that our investment in this dynamic sector will not only ensure that we play a key role in supporting this initiative, but will also help to grow and develop the next generation of medical breakthroughs.”

As well as expanding healthcare options in the UK, the creation of a new specialist cancer centre in London is also likely to bolster the capital’s international private healthcare market, according to Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company for London which supported VPS Healthcare Group’s move to the capital.

Gordon Innes says: “London’s status as a world-leader in medical research and healthcare is not only great for those of us who live here and access the excellent results through the NHS and other providers – it is also profoundly good for London’s economy. Our thriving private healthcare sector attracts thousands of people from around the world who come here to access high quality treatment. The presence of VPS Healthcare here is a major addition to the sector, and it is particularly exciting that the company is focusing on developing and providing innovative treatments for cancer.”

The UK’s medical and scientific base is regarded as one of the world’s best, with the ‘golden triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge alone home to universities consistently rated in the world top 10 and five out of the UK’s six Academic Health Science Centres. In 2014 the Mayor launched MedCity, an initiative to drive forward life sciences research development, entrepreneurship and commercialisation in London and the greater south east.

MedCity Executive Chair Dr Eliot Forster says: “Our region has a world-leading reputation for cancer research, treatment and care, and it’s terrific to see such a clear vote of confidence from VPS in our clinicians and scientists, our infrastructure and our business environment. This is a very welcome addition to our vibrant healthcare economy.”

*Proton beam therapy in the UK

Proton beam therapy is currently generally unavailable through the NHS, though a small number of UK patients are sent abroad for the treatment if their care team believes they are ideally suited to it; around 400 patients, mostly children, have received this care since 2008.

In 2013, the UK government announced funding of £250m to build two new PBT centres in University College London NHS Foundation Trust and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, both due to offer treatment from 2018.

In April 2015 Cardiff-based Proton Partners International announced their intention to open PBT centres available to NHS and private patients in Cardiff, London and Northumberland.