Business Hour

This issue of business hour features co-founder and executive chairman of Bespoke Healthcare Holdings Ltd, Gwam Rajiah, writes Tracy Hargreaves. Photography:

Gwam was born in Saint Pierre, Mauritius, the eldest brother of a family of eight. He studied English and French and decided to leave Mauritius in the early 70’s and travel to Paris to start a course in engineering. He soon realised that engineering wasn’t for him and came to the UK to study nursing, where he worked as many hours as he could to send money to support his family in Mauritius.

Gwam initially trained as a psychiatric health nurse in Wales, before extending his training to other areas including medicine and surgery and after spending some time in Wales, eventually settled in Preston where he managed the intensive care unit at Royal Preston Hospital. He then moved into healthcare business management and completed an MBA, before heading up specialist regional services for Lancashire and Cumbria.

Waiting times for patients wanting routine neurophysiology tests were up to four years, with people in the north west having to travel to regional hospitals in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. Gwam felt there was an opportunity to set up a private company which could serve people locally in their home towns and reduce waiting times. So, after 35 years in the NHS, he decided to leave and in 2006, together with his wife Sara, who he married in 2003, founded Bespoke Healthcare, which is based in Fulwood.

“Setting up was harder than I realised,” said Gwam. “Colleagues thought I was mad as I was giving up a secure senior role within the NHS, to venture into a new business, let alone trying to introduce a new model of healthcare delivery that hadn’t been tried before. A few of the larger hospitals were cautious about working with us, especially as we had some new ideas in terms of service delivery and the fact we had no trading history. Now we have NHS Trusts across the UK using our service. It was only through sheer perseverance that we managed to secure a contract with Fylde Coast hospital and eventually managed to attract an acute trust in Wigan and the rest, as they say, is history and we have now forged excellent relationships with all our clients, both NHS and other independent healthcare providers.”

EMG, Nerve Conductions Studies and EEG investigations are three of the highest neuro diagnostic tests in demand.

The ethos of the company is to provide these tests on an outsourced basis for both one-off clinics and retained contracts, this fully flexible approach means it is able to supply a full patient booking and chaperoned clinic service through to supplying a leading consultant to deliver directly with the patient locally to where the client lives, at a date and time to suit them. The service is offered seven days a week, evenings and bank holidays so is much more accessible. Which is great news particularly for those in hard to reach areas such as Cumbria, where patients had to travel long distances. This also impacted on the number of DNA’s (did not attend), which is between 3 to 4 per cent as opposed to 13 per cent average by other providers, which meant less wasted resource.

“This is a totally unique approach,” says Gwam, “we take the hospital to the patient and for us it is all about patient care. We have so far carried out over 100,000 tests since we started with excellent feedback from both patients and referring doctors.”

Over the years Bespoke Healthcare has steadily grown both its reputation and its services, providing the full range of neurophysiological services, including highly complex neuro and spinal monitoring for spinal and brain surgery, across the UK to both the NHS and private healthcare sectors, and now employs nearly 80 staff.

Gwam added: “A real achievement for the company is, as a northern healthcare company, we beat off stiff competition from top London hospitals to win a contract to work with three Surrey hospitals. I’m now affectionally known as the flat cap northerner.”

In 2014, Bespoke Healthcare acquired hospital premises of its own and named these Greater Lancashire Hospital.

The hospital provides a range of outpatient, diagnostic and treatment services both through its contracts with local NHS Trusts as well as private clients. The hospital also provides a wide range of cosmetic and aesthetic treatments known as Bespoke Cosmetic Services. More recently, Greater Lancashire Hospital has introduced a private GP service, allowing patients to be seen quickly and at a time that suits them. Earlier this year, the hospital was given the rating ‘outstanding’ for patient care by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Gwam is always looking to be different, ensuring the heart of the company remains to provide outstanding patient care, with state of the art technology and employing quality people. “The world of medicine is constantly changing and it’s important to be forward thinking and keep one step ahead. We even have a number of clinicians from Norway and other parts of the UK visiting our hospital to see how we operate.”

The company’s achievements are reaping the rewards, as in September 2017, Bespoke Healthcare was recognised for its hard work, by being successful in the BIBA’s 2017 ‘Small Business of the Year’ Award.

Gwam isn’t just committed to his business, he is a keen golfer and supports Preston North End. He is a strong advocate for charity work, raising money and getting involved in lots of events. Bespoke Healthcare is also a supporter of the new Preston Youth Zone development. Gwam’s 13-year old son Myles has also got a head for business and can’t wait to get involved.

“I’m very settled here,” said Gwam, “My wife’s family is here and I’m close to the Lake District. So all in all, it wasn’t a bad move from Mauritius to Preston.”



Tedd Walmsley

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