Sometimes St Luke’s is referred to as “private” medical care in an unfriendly way. In pure wordcraft description, it is true. In the usual basic understanding of the term “private healthcare” it most certainly is not! Here are some reasons why we can say this.

> There is simply NO private healthcare scheme, which accepts its members for treatment REGARDLESS of any existing or previous condition. St Luke’s accepts ANY of its eligible patients for treatment for ANY condition, even if they have suffered from it for years – provided, of course, that the ailment is treatable.

> The usual definition of private healthcare is that it costs at the point of delivery i.e. each treatment raises a cost which has to be paid, either directly, or by the patient through an insurance to which they contribute. The NHS is defined as a health service “ FREE AT THE POINT OF DELIVERY”. So, a definition that covers St Luke’s is nearer to the NHS than private healthcare!

> We have a special relationship with the NHS. We are the ONLY hospital to have an agreement with the Minister for Health to be treated differently under the new Health Service Purchaser/ Provider arrangements. They regard St Luke’s as Partners in healthcare. Consequently, they provide provisions for scans and X-rays, pathology work (blood tests etc) as well as carrying out operations in the London Hospitals of our Honorary Consultants which cannot be carried out at St Luke’s. Can ANYONE think of a “private” hospital, in the accepted sense, being given such official support from the NHS? I doubt it. St Luke’s actually SAVES the NHS over 4 million per year.

> St Luke’s is an INDEPENDENT hospital licensed by the Health Authority. We offer treatment in a style and atmosphere, which cannot be found in the NHS. For hard-pressed Clergy and their families, special care IS needed, and St Luke’s provides it with its ethos of peace and care. Because of this care, Clergy are often returned fit and well sooner rather than later to their parish duties and ministries.

> St Luke’s very often is the last chance for many overseas Anglican Clergy and Missionaries to receive life saving treatment. If we cannot treat them in the Hospital, then we help fund their stay elsewhere and our Honorary Consultants perform the operation needed. No “private” healthcare scheme would be remotely interested in providing such a service.

> It is worth reminding any detractors of St Luke’s that it represents probably one of the finest examples of Christian Stewardship in the Church today. Not only do the vast majority of contributors give to St Luke’s without ANY possibility of receiving the free healthcare offered themselves (for example normal laity), but the giving of the time and talents of 220 Consultants, Psychiatrists and Psychologists throughout the Dioceses, without any charge to St Luke’s, provides further evidence of selfless giving for the benefit of others.

You may well think of other important differences – if so, please let me know what they are.