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A Chinese takeaway

A partnership of two “outstanding” foundation trusts, a council and an architecture firm have signed a deal with a Chinese real estate firm which could be worth millions for the NHS.

Northumbria Healthcare FT, the Christie FT, Northumberland County Council and BDP have signed the contract for the first stage of a collaboration with the Rongqiao Group.

The deal will see NHS and council staff, acting under the NHS Northumbria International Alliance, support the company to build 10 new hospitals in China.

Staff will act as advisors and consultants during the project, the first phase of which is to build a multispecialty hospital with a cancer centre of excellence in Fuzhou, in south east China.

The deal could be worth millions of pounds over 10 years, with Rongqiao planning to invest £1bn in the new hospitals.

But because the trusts have only signed the contract for the first hospital, they said they could not comment on the deal’s value.

However, if the partnership continues to work with the Chinese company, it could see millions of pounds reinvested in frontline patient care.

With the group having already signed a memorandum of understanding with Northumbria for its next project to develop a 500 bed cancer hospital and community and older people care services in Chongqing, south west China’s commercial capital, it is likely more cash could be on the horizon.

Fragmentary care impacting on patients

Northamptonshire has long been recognised as a sustainability and transformation partnership that is struggling to get off the ground.

Earlier this year, we reported that it had to ask senior leaders across the patch to formally agree to behave better with each other.

But a Care Quality Commission review of the region revealed the cost of these poor relationships.

The report showed multiple incidents where patients were harmed because the STP could not get its act together to better integrate care.

The new STP leader, Angela Hillery, chief executive of Northamptonshire Healthcare Trust, has brought more optimism to the region and there is now general agreement in the area that it must work better together if it is to improve patient care.

However, despite this agreement the STP is hampered by severe financial problems and poor relationships that the CQC said was encouraging organisations to retreat inside their own walls and prioritise their own internal pressures.

The report raises questions on what more can be done to support regions that are struggling to implement new care models when it is up against such immediate and entrenched problems.

Without resolving these issues, it is hard to see how the people of Northamptonshire won’t continue to be left behind as other areas, with stronger finances and regional relationships, power forward with integrating health care.