UK Middle East

London Office 33 James’ Street

+44 (0) 20 7495 1234

Manchester Office 10 Mount Street
M2 5NT

+44 (0) 161 839 0064

Our News

Our expert in-house capability provides accurate, up-to-date and incisive research to deliver swift, precise outcomes. Targeted individuals are engaged with care and professionalism and the client opportunity presented in a clear and well-prepared format.

Our News

Our expert in-house capability provides accurate, up-to-date and incisive research to deliver swift, precise outcomes. Targeted individuals are engaged with care and professionalism and the client opportunity presented in a clear and well-prepared format.

Can the private sector be good for your health?

Mark Iliffe

The NHS dominates the provision and delivery of healthcare in England, but a significant under utilised resource exists in the form of the private healthcare sector. 

Some may wince at the thought of a publicly funded system potentially working in collaboration with the independent sector, but, as pressure on the NHS heightens, it is time to stop thinking about it as a competition and, indeed, embrace the service that these facilities provide. Here, Howgate Sable partner Mark Iliffe discusses how the private sector can be good for the state of healthcare in the UK.

The regular challenges presented to the NHS over the winter period have been more severe than ever this year, proven by the record low percentage of emergency patients being treated within four hours. This is despite the NHS suspending thousands of non-urgent procedures, a move it was hoped would free up hospital resource and make it less reliant on emergency funding from the government.

As ever, these solutions barely papered over the cracks. The extension of the policy on non-urgent care resulted in the deferral of thousands of operations, leaving many patients desperately in need of new hips and knees, for example, and causing both physical and mental suffering. They will now require further support, which may not have been necessary had their procedure been conducted in a timely manner. At the same time, many private hospitals have unused resources – spare beds, theatre capacity and surplus equipment.

There are a number of external factors that are not helpful – in particular, the demonisation of anything that can be alluded to as ‘privatisation’. It’s all too easy to use examples, such as Carillion’s untimely collapse, as having a direct correlation to the ‘evils’ of the private sector. It’s also widely inaccurate to suggest that UK healthcare will become more aligned to the dysfunctional US healthcare system if the private sector becomes more involved with overall healthcare delivery in this country.

The reality is quite different. If we want to keep healthcare free at the point of delivery, the private sector has to take more of the burden. This may be achieved by reducing prices – perhaps insurers can be more creative with their policies and offer low-cost options for the self-employed or those not covered by corporate schemes. The private hospital groups can perhaps also be more creative with their pricing structure and offer better deals for those who self-insure and pay for their own treatment.

Perhaps most importantly of all, there needs to be attitudinal change. Improving the image of the sector in the minds of the public can be achieved if we focus on communicating the benefits of a partnership between the NHS and private groups and embrace the existing skills and resources available. The public have genuine choice when it comes to selecting their treatment options and more should be done to explain this without there being any sense of negativity.

By taking advantage of what the private sector has to offer, individuals can receive timely treatment, better outcomes and importantly, help to save the NHS for those who need it most.

View Mark’s profile to learn more, or email him on

The EMI Practice at Howgate Sable really took the time to understand our situation and find exceptional candidates who could fulfil challenging international leadership assignments for a truly global company with a history that spans well over 200 years.

It was a first class experience and positive outcome on many levels.


Barry McDonnell – Director of Manufacturing at De La Rue International

I have worked with the Howgate Sable team on several occasions whilst hiring mission-critical executives. Partnership is the byword for this organisation – they act as an extension of my team and work hard to support me not only in the technical solution, but in the sense of a deep understanding of my specific requirements. Delivery is the key measure of our talent partners and Howgate Sable have always achieved what was asked of them.

Jesper Berg – SVP HR, ABB

Having worked with Howgate Sable as a client and as a candidate I can confidently say their ability to deliver on complex searches is second to none. They not only have a detailed knowledge of the marketplace but also understand the importance of cultural fit. 

Bridget Lea – O2

I was particularly impressed with Howgate Sable’s knowledge and network in the aviation sector, the quality of the candidates provided at shortlist and the availability of Nick and the team to provide us with advice and guidance on candidates when required. Nick was particularly effective in understanding our needs as a Company and being flexible in adapting requirements and plans.

Paul Hutchings – Thomas Cook Group Airlines

I have recently worked with Nick from Howgate Sable to recruit a new Head of Aircraft Operations for Thomson Airways. I was particularly impressed by the wide-reaching search undertaken and the quality of the candidates put forward. The skills match to the brief was excellent and I am delighted with the individual we selected.

Dawn Wilson – Thomson Airways

From their initial call to me the Aviation practice team at Howgate Sable demonstrated a significant difference. Straightforward and to the point, the extent of their network and deep insight into the industry was immediately evident. The added value I have received as a candidate is tangible. An almost instant rapport quickly developed into a focused business relationship which is open, honest, respectful and above all trustworthy.

Carl Gissing