Bupa Hospitals is launching a £450,000 advertising campaign to encourage NHS patients to have operations in their local private hospital.
The hospital group, which will soon change its name to Spire Healthcare following its private equity purchase by Cinven, has taken out newspaper advertisements alerting readers to the fact that there is "somewhere surprising you could go on the NHS: Bupa Hospitals".
Commercial director Richard Jones told the Financial Times that the advertising campaign was a sign of the ways in which the NHS is changing and described the decision as "a bold move into the new world".
"Our core business remains private healthcare. But there are growing opportunities to do NHS business that are terribly important to us," he revealed.
The campaign will represent the first time the private sector has advertised directly to NHS patients, although Capio hospitals have previously used the trade press to advertise their NHS treatment centres to family doctors.
Cinven reached an agreement in June to purchase Bupa's 25 UK hospitals for £1.44 billion.