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Healthcare Forum Report

BritCham / CBBC
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Our inaugural Healthcare forum took place on 26 September at the British Centre. Brian Gallagher, director of trade & investment at UKTI, spoke about UKTI's initiatives in this field to a wide-ranging group of BritCham/CBBC members, particularly concerning how they can cooperate with Chinese companies to develop Chinese healthcare. Other industry members, representing various healthcare providers and professional services firms, gave the benefit of their expertise to explore possibilities in this area, regarding both plans for future forums and ways to improve the UK's contribution to China's healthcare sector.

The meeting was opened by Chair John Williams, who explained that the forum had been established to cover a gap for healthcare in BritCham/CBBC's series of forums. It is hoped that in time the forum will develop to attract other members with an interest in this field.

We were very pleased to have Brian Gallagher at the forum to give a summary of UKTI's activities in China as a whole and in healthcare in particular. Attendees were told that healthcare is a high priority for UKTI as well as the Chinese Government. There is huge potential for growth, and a breach for the UK to step into if it plays its cards right. China is keen to learn from the NHS model, and members at the forum pointed out just how much expertise the UK has to offer in this respect, both in technical knowledge and in governance. The UK can offer guidance based on practical experience, and China is receptive to this: visits to China by NICE, for example, were very well received.

One point of note was that advice to China ought to be targeted and not just a case of offloading "everything we know". Moreover it is not a case of dictating to China how to operate, but of making authorities aware that the UK has expertise that is available to them. It was suggested that the sector must be rendered more visible to the Chinese Ministry of Health and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), as they are the bodies that communicate with the NHS.

Some key points raised by UKTI were:

  • It is hoped that more British healthcare providers will start to work with China. Many worry about where to start in a place like China, but the public and private sectors both have opportunities.
  • A UKTI pilot project is underway in Zhejiang province, and others are in the pipeline.
  • UKTI currently has a nationwide project to identify high-value opportunities (HVOs). A number of projects have been earmarked for HVO status, but more support is required from UK healthcare providers to realise their potential.
  • Ken Clarke, who has been appointed special envoy for healthcare, is charged with promoting the sector in China. He is due to visit China this autumn/winter.
  • The UK has five main strengths: primary care; education/training (of staff); digital health; elderly care; and hospital solutions (i.e. everything from design and management to catering, training, supply of drugs and medical equipment). Digital health and elderly care are especially pertinent to China.
  • Chinese providers generally would prefer the UK to provide them with a catch-all solution to their requirements, rather than just piecemeal advice.

After Brian Gallagher's talk, his colleague Anna Zhao, trade and investment manager (healthcare) at UKTI, presented to members a few examples of their healthcare-related projects in China. One such is the Aqua "lifestyle park" in Kunming, which is a Sino-UK collaborative project due to be upgraded to a joint venture in 2014.

CBBC will make a list of the people involved in these projects available to members. We hope to hold another three or four forums before next June; participants in this forum were asked to put forward themes they would like these forums to deal with, and non-attendees are also encouraged to submit ideas. Possibilities include speakers from the Chinese Ministry of Health or CDC, as well as panel discussions, which may be tied in to possible visits by Ken Clarke and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The point was stressed that if the ministers do visit, they will want to be informed precisely about where the opportunities in China lie and how they can help members here.

This forum requires a co-chair to help arrange meetings. Please contact serena.li@cbbc.org.cn if you would like to volunteer.

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