Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Hospital is planning a US$1.5 billion expansion in the emirate over the next three years.
A part of VPS Healthcare Group, Burjeel plans to open four hospitals, five speciality centres and 10 medical centres, including one on Reem Island that it plans in the next 10 months.
Private hospital groups such as DM Healthcare Group, NMC Health and Al Noor Hospital have turned their attention to building infrastructure over the past five years. International groups, such as South Africa’s Mediclinic International and Saudi German Hospital group, are among the key international players.
Currently, 18 private hospitals are under construction in Dubai alone, according to Dubai Health Authority.
Burjeel’s Reem Island daycare centre in the Gate Towers will facilitate same day surgeries such as in gastroenterology and will also have a dialysis unit. It will have 16 beds.
Construction of Burjeel Medical City in Mohammed bin Zayed City will alone cost Dh1.4 billion and is expected to be ready in the next two years. When fully operational, it will have 400 beds, with oncology one its specialities.
“All Burjeel hospitals will be premium centres with valet parking and concierge service,” said Clancey Po, the chief executive of Burjeel Hospital. The existing one with 206 beds on Najda Street that opened in 2012 calls itself a “seven-star hospital”.
The other three hospitals will be in Al Ain, the Western Region with Madinat Zayed high on the list of preferred locations there, and in Qatar in the next three years.
“Madinat Zayed alone has around 55,000 people and more in the surrounding areas. It has a huge land area, but not proper health care facilities,” Mr Po said.
Next week, it expects to open a 17,000 square foot Burjeel Medical Center at Deerfields Mall in Al Bahia, with laboratories, radiologists and 15 speciality clinics.
The other medical centres are expected to open in Al Ain, Baniyas, Khalifa City A and Yas Island, among other locations.
“We are also working on a referral laboratory in two years in Abu Dhabi that will serve all hospitals, not just those owned by us,” Mr Po said.
Burjeel’s own laboratory expects to fill a market demand for the services as several clinics do not have such facilities.
“With an ageing expat and Emirati population, and increasing population in general, the demand is increasing and hospital facilities are not able to keep pace with this,” Mr Po said.
The speciality centres will include a 7,000 sq ft neurological rehabilitation centre across the street from the current hospital. Others will specialise in dialysis, dental, diagnostic and imaging.
With the rise in demand, medical inflation is also rising.
“You need to hire staff from abroad and to get good professionals you have to pay the price,” Mr Po said.
With the competition, the hospital has experienced a 15 per cent year-on-year rise in salaries for doctors and nurses. While most of the nurses are from the Philippines and India, the doctors are usually those with a US or European degree. The hospital has 135 doctors, and with the new openings it expects to have 450 doctors in total at the end of 2017. It has 475 nurses.
Health tourism is another area in which Burjeel Hospital wants to increase its share.
“Currently, a minuscule number of patients are from abroad,” Mr Po said. “At least 5 per cent of our patient population should come from abroad by the end of three years.”
The hospital, which treats 50,000 inpatients a year, will set up representative offices in Yemen, Sudan and Kenya, expanding their overseas marketing presence from Nigeria and Oman.
“We want to bring a finesse to the medical concierge service, which the Far East and India specialise in,” he said.
VPS Healthcare Group, started by Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, also owns the Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery in Dubai besides hospitals and a pharmacy under the LLH Hospital brand, Life Care hospitals and Life Pharma in Abu Dhabi. It also runs two LifeLine Hospitals in Oman.