Did you know that Peter Pan saved a British hospital?

Peter Pan’s writer JM Barrie gave copyright to London GOSH.


In 1929 London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) was bequeathed the rights to Peter Pan by JM Barrie’s estate. Ever since, the copyright to the book as well as a significant proportion of derived products represented a substantial revenue and source of income for this major London hospital for children.


Of course, copyrights tend to expire. It did first in the UK in 1987, but thanks to the then UK Prime Minister Lord Callaghan, an amendment to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 gave GOSH:


the unique right to royalties from stage performances of Peter Pan (and any adaptation of the play) as well as from publications, audio books, ebooks,radio broadcasts and films of the story of Peter Pan, in perpetuity.


A beautiful story, even though copyright expired across Europe in 2007 (except in Spain where it remained enforced until 2017). It is still active in the US until 2023. The revenue generated is rather substantial, with the Disney film alone representing more than £10 million in royalties in 2015!


JM Barrie, who lived closed to the Children Hospital and never concealed that the GOSH was a source of inspiration for his work, always strived to help and support the hospital. In 1929, he found the ultimate way to ensure the hospital would benefit from a reliable and continuing source of revenue. As related by the GOSH staff:


At a Guildhall dinner later that year, Barrie explained the impetus for his gift: “At one time, Peter Pan was an invalid in the Hospital… and it was he who put me up to the little thing I did".


Beyond the beautiful and evocative story lies an important trend for public hospitals: the generation of additional revenue through bequeaths. Other countries offer diverse experience with some hospital receiving castles, hotels, vineyards, properties or land.


Illustrative of these dynamics to secure additional or “third party” revenue to help hospitals balance the books are the tendency to develop hospitality (no pun intended) services, such as accommodation for families, or the concession of shops and recreational activities within the premises.


Triggered by the general public’s appetite for medical TV shows, other hospitals have put together sales team to manage rights to access and shoot footage in wards.


While the above may sound anecdotal, these examples participate in a growing tendency to look at value for money across the asset lifecycle.


Beyond the “sweating the assets” dynamics, is there a place for the management of revenue-generating activities in hospitals? Can it be justified by a public interest rationale such as offering more services for patients and staff? Is it an imposition on management teams?


Read our forthcoming blog entry (available at www.decidehealth.world/blog as of 9th February) for more information. This topic will be part of our Working Group discussions on “sweating the assets”. Stay tuned!





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This is my favourite innovative health financing mechanism of all time!! Thanks for sharing!