A unique partnership has been agreed between a health trust and their Chinese counterparts.
Officials at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumberland County Council have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with one of the best hospitals in China.
The partnership means they will be able to share NHS expertise on providing integrated patient care with Xiangya Hospital Central South University, China.
The trust and council have been seen as international leaders on integrated care, ensuring patients move seamlessly from hospital to home.
And their Chinese counterparts – who published a national strategy of Healthy China 2030 last August – have been looking for new models of care to help older people be cared for in the community and at home.
Northumbria will help train nurses in China, equipping them with the skills to deliver integrated care in the community.
David Evans, trust chief executive, said: “We have an excellent track-record of working across traditional organisational boundaries and realising the benefits of integration for our communities.
“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 a contract to deliver this work will be signed within a few months to enable us to start this partnership.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”