Opportunities abound as Chinese health planners seek the skills of NHS experts who can help it to set up a system of GPs, writes Deborah Kobewka
Despite notable progress, particularly in vanguard areas, many managers in the NHS still feel they have a long way to go before they can achieve proper integrated care, by moving services out of expensive hospital settings into more efficient, patient friendly primary and community settings.
However, from a Chinese perspective, where there is currently very little primary or community-based care, the current NHS model with its universal GP access is already a beacon of excellence. Authorities in China see the NHS as having much to emulate.
Expenditure on healthcare in China is increasing fast. The value of the healthcare market is set to rise from £0.5trn to £1.6trn by 2030, and has been growing at a 20-30 per cent rate over the past two to three years. The Chinese government wants increased investment to be targeted at making public healthcare services more efficient by building a primary care service centred around GPs and allied health professional teams, and ending the near-total reliance on expensive hospital-based services.
The UK government is ready to do all it can to support NHS trusts to export best practice – and bring money back into frontline patient services in the NHS
As a result, Chinese health planners are now actively seeking to engage the expertise of NHS experts who can help it to set up a GP system, potentially supported by community nursing and AHP teams who are integrated with hospital services.
Following a successful trade mission to China led by health secretary Jeremy Hunt at the close of 2016, where British organisations signed deals worth more than £250m, our message to the China Britain Business Council (CBBC) conference in London this week is clear: the UK government is ready to do all it can to support NHS trusts and other health providers to export best practice – and bring money back into frontline patient services in the NHS and benefit to the wider UK.
The organisation I lead – Healthcare UK – is actively working with NHS trusts and independent providers to help them navigate their way into this market.
One recent success story is our work with Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust and Northumberland County Council. These organisations were already known for leading the way in the UK on integrated health and social care services and so were a natural choice to take part in the initial showcasing of NHS expertise in this area.
Northumberland County Council’s deputy chief executive Daljit Lally, also speaking at the CBBC conference this week, helped broker a deal in January this year with Xiangya Hospital Central South University, after joining the UK trade mission in December.
Sharing expertise internationally is seen increasingly as an attractive way for exemplar NHS organisations to keep finances healthy and produce greater scope for investment in local services
The Northumbrian organisations will share their experience of working together to establish new models that establish primary care and community care based services for older people and patients with long-term chronic conditions.
Xiangya officials visited Northumbria in January, and training for their primary care staff including nurses focusing on integrated working between hospital, primary care and care home staff is already under way.
Sharing expertise internationally is seen increasingly as an attractive way for exemplar NHS organisations to keep finances healthy and produce greater scope for investment in local services.
UK healthcare expertise in areas such as funding, strategy, regulation, training, innovation and delivery means the NHS is one of the world’s most admired healthcare systems. Healthcare UK, supported by the Health and International Trade Government Departments, works with NHS trusts to support development of their international export work wherever needed.
It can help to strengthen their capacity to operate and succeed internationally, and works closely with the Department for International Trade’s extensive overseas network to identify specific commercial opportunities that capitalise on the diverse expertise and capabilities of the UK healthcare sector.
We use our in-depth market knowledge, understanding of the evolving needs of health services around the world, and relationships with local influencers and decision-makers to identify the biggest commercial opportunities worldwide.
Deborah Kobewka is managing director of Healthcare UK