NHS doctor starts up successful private clinics

Dr Rankin is the founder of the London Doctors Clinic. In just two years, they have treated more than 3,000 patients and opened several clinics around the capital, each situated near a major train station.

Convenience is a key word for Dr Rankin: while he knows the NHS is an incredible service, he believes that private GP care should not be out of reach for those who wish to seek it.

How did the London Doctors Clinic start out?

One of the things I noticed when I first arrived here from Australia is that in Australia there’s a doctor on every corner. Every single shopping centre has got a GP, they are everywhere you go.

In my practice in Wandsworth we knew we had a lot of commuters. The main thing is to try and make it as easy as possible for working people to access general practice and its really difficult in the NHS because the main focus is that you have to look after the chronic long-term conditions, which makes absolute sense – that’s what a public service should do. It should be less concerned with people that are fit and well.

Do you think there is demand for this type of private care?

There is a massive gap in the market. The number of people who work in central London who, in order to access healthcare need to take a half day off or a whole day off work, is massive and there is a huge number of services that the NHS doesn’t cover at all. So it started off with a travel clinic a while ago because that was what I felt was fairly poorly serviced by the NHS. On the back of that we thought we should try this general practice because there are a lot of people asking for this service.

I got some funding last year, towards the end of last year. I started it myself just with a couple clinics attached to our travel clinic. I got some funding and now we have six clinics around central London just designed to provide affordable and accessible general practice. We’ve located them nearby all the major train stations like Waterloo, King’s Cross, Soho Square, London Bridge, Victoria and Liverpool Street. We charge from £89 for 15 minutes so we’re trying to make it an affordable cost to provide choice.

The way I think of it is the sort of thing that walk-in centres cover. Simple illnesses – mainly tonsillitis, sinusitis – that sort of thing.

Primary Care Today caught up with Dr Seth Rankin, a GP and NHS CCG board member, who set up private clinics around London to provide accessible general practice and a parallel option to NHS care