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Virgin planning chain of GP surgeries

Reports say first one could open by end of 2007


Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson is planning to enter the health care market by opening a chain of doctors’ surgeries, it has been reported.

The entrepreneur is planning a Virgin Medical Centre scheme which would establish a chain of super-surgeries for groups of GPs.

While the plans are still at an early stage the first of the surgeries could be up and running by the end of the year.

No-one from Virgin was available to comment further on the project.

Health care sector

These recent developments tie in with a number of moves made by the Virgin group to enter the health care sector.

Sir Richard already runs a number of fitness clubs under the Virgin brand and last week confirmed plans to enter into the stem cell storage business.

The Virgin Health Bank will enable parents to store stem cells from their child’s umbilical cords in the hope they could then be used to treat certain diseases in the future.

Sir Richard hopes to offer parents a choice of both public and private storage.

GP surgeries

Private storage means that only the family would have access to the cells. But Sir Richard would also like to set up a public bank to store cells for use by those who need them when necessary.

Virgin is not the only company looking to the health care sector as a means of future expansion.

Supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda have both been linked to plans to open GP surgeries at their stores, while Alliance Boots has already announced plans to open daytime surgeries in its larger outlets after a successful trial with the Bournemouth and Poole NHS Trust.

A recent Government Health White Paper recommended retailers look into the possibility of running GP surgeries on the high street in an attempt to widen patients’ access to GPs.

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