Northumberland to share care expertise with China
A unique memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between health and care leaders in Northumberland and one of the best hospitals in China to share NHS expertise on providing integrated patient care.
The partnership between Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland County Council and Xiangya Hospital Central South University, China, is set to see the vast experience of delivering joined-up care in hospitals and in the community to patients in Northumberland shared with colleagues in China.
For many years, the trust and the council has worked together in a unique collaboration to provide integrated care, ensuring patients move seamlessly from hospital to home.
This arrangement has been held up nationally and internationally as one of the best and most forward-thinking approaches in the NHS, if not the world, bringing immense benefits to patients, particularly the elderly. Overall the care delivered by the trust has been rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.
To address the general care and health issues of China, including the largest and fastest-growing ageing population in the world, China published its national strategy of “Healthy China 2030” in August 2016.
Given that the vast majority of healthcare in China has traditionally been delivered in hospitals with limited resources, and the Chinese government expects most older people to be cared for in the community and at home, there is great demand for new models of care.
It is exciting for a leading general hospital such as Xiangya to explore new joined-up ways of working with health and care leaders in Northumberland, and the UK, which represents a major shift for the healthcare system in China.
Northumbria has also developed advanced nurse training courses in the UK and this partnership will draw on this experience to train nurses in China in this new integrated approach, equipping them with the skills to deliver integrated care in the community.
The signing of the MOU came at the end of a field trip to Northumbria where the team from Xiangya Hospital saw aspects of the care including visits to The Northumbria, Wansbeck and Hexham hospitals, the telecare and social care hub at The Foundry House, Bedlington, and a GP practice in Ponteland.
Xiangya is one of the top comprehensive hospitals in with 3,500 beds in China and the leading hospital in Hunan Province with the population of more than 67million, including 11million people over 60 years old.
As one of the 44 hospitals directly administrated by the Ministry of Health (National Health and Family Planning Commission) of China, and one of the three teaching hospitals affiliated to Central South University, Xiangya is supported at the national, provincial and university levels to develop systematic healthcare solutions for integrated care in China.
The investment gained from the partnership will be used to benefit patients across the NHS in Northumberland and North Tyneside and is expected to become a significant revenue stream for local health and care services in the years ahead.
David Evans, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare, said: “In Northumberland we have an excellent track-record of working across traditional organisational boundaries and realising the benefits of integration for our communities by truly working together.
“We are delighted to be able to share the expertise we have built up over many years on an international stage and help our colleagues in China adopt new joined-up ways of working.
“Following the MOU, we are confident that a contract to deliver this work will be signed within the next few months to enable us to start this partnership in earnest.”
Daljit Lally, deputy chief executive of Northumberland County Council, employed in a joint role with the trust as executive director of wellbeing and community health, said: “We are really pleased to be able to share what we have learned from the strong partnership we have developed between the NHS and social care.
“Like here in Northumberland, this part of China has a large, and growing, elderly population and we look forward to developing new ways of working to deliver high quality care outside the traditional hospital setting to benefit them, and their families.”
Prof Sun Hong, president of Xiangya Hospital, said: “This has been one of the most impressive overseas trips of my career, and I would like to thank Northumbria for the informative and productive sessions organised for us over the past several days. We have been very impressed with what we have seen here in Northumberland and witnessed first-hand the direct benefits joined-up care is bringing to patients across the area.
“We have come to Northumberland on a mission of learning the best practices and experience of running integrated care, which is of great importance for China at the present time and in the future. We are delighted to see that we have a lot of things in common and, for sure, there will be more to come through our future collaborations after the MOU.
“We look forward to welcoming representatives from the trust and council to our hospital to take the next steps towards bringing this partnership to fruition.”
Deborah Kobewka, managing director of Healthcare UK welcomed the signing. She said: “I am delighted that Xiangya Hospital Central South University and the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust/Northumberland County Council partnership are working together to support both the development of integrated care in China and UK exports. I am confident this agreement will lead to a successful, sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship.”
Further evidence of the trust’s standing at the forefront of integrated care, Northumbria Healthcare is taking a national lead on developing new models of care for Northumberland as a vanguard site as chosen by NHS England.
The partnership is supported by the China Prosperity Fund from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) under the Project of “Research on Better Hospital Support for Integrated Medical and Social Care for the Elderly in China Using UK Experience” and initiated and lead by FCO China Regional Cities Network This UK visit was fully accompanied by staff from the British Embassy China and Consulate General Guangzhou.