BNP Paribas Leasing Solution (LS)’s healthcare division has become operational with ten vendor finance partners, a year after the appointment of Nick Hoof as head of healthcare sales.

The division will focus on the hospital, dental, veterinary, optical and pharmacy markets. Its first batch of vendor partners includes Hub and Spoke Innovations, UK distributor for the Pharmaself24 prescription dispensing machines.

It is the first foray in the UK healthcare equipment market for BNP Paribas, which has had a four-decade-long sector presence in Europe through Banque National de Paris.

In June last year, Hoof was brought in to spearhead expansion in the UK. He joined from Siemens Financial Services (SFS), where he headed sales to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) and private hospitals.

Over recent years, leasing has seen growth in Britain’s healthcare space, as national providers look to products such as managed services to offset budget restrictions.

“We … expect the importance of NHS outsourced contracts to continue,” Chris Wilkinson, head of UK healthcare sales for SFS, told Leasing Life in September.

He added: “NHS credit investment will become even more challenging, as the impact of doing ‘more for less’ increasingly stretches trusts’ financial positions.”

In January, the BNP Paribas group said it was looking to expand its footprint in the UK’s mid-corporate sector, cashing in on competitors’ worries around Brexit.