Chinese delegation visit Imperial to learn about the NHS


), Professor Guang-Zhong Yang with Ms Wei Fu

Deputy Director of IGHI, Professor Guang-Zhong Yang with Ms Wei Fu from the China National Health Development Research Centre.

China national and regional healthcare leaders visit London to learn about UK healthcare & to sign an agreement to collaborate.

The Global Health and Development Group, lead partner of the international Decision Support Initiative (iDSI), within IGHI’s Centre for Health Policy was delighted to host a visit to Imperial from senior Chinese policy makers and researchers last week.  The delegation comprised of 25 high-level officials including representation from the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) and the China National Health and Development Research Center (CNHDRC). The aim of the two-week visit was to get a better understanding of British healthcare policies and systems and sign an agreement to collaborate. 

The CNHDRC, previously known as China Health Economics Institute (CHEI), is a national research institution, established in 1991 under the leadership of the NHFPC. It works as a national think-tank, providing technical consultancy to health policy-makers to further strengthen Chinese health policy research and accommodate the needs of health development and reform.

Their visit to London was part of a project entitled “Understanding the UK Healthcare System: A senior Chinese delegation’s visit to the UK to learn about UK’s best practice”. The visit was supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a follow up from last year’s People to People dialogue hosted by the Secretary of State. The delegation had various meeting with representatives from Imperial College, The Nuffield Trust, the Department of Health, NHS Digital, the Medicine and the Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), among others. During the visit, Imperial invited NHS experts and policy makers to share their experiences, with a particular emphasis on understanding the UK health delivery system, Health Technology Assessment, medical innovation and integrated care. 

Talks were given by various presenters, including the Head of the Global Health Development Group - Dr Kalipso Chalkidou and Senior Adviser – Francis Ruiz; NHS England National Director of Patient Safety - Dr Mike Durkin; Honorary Professor at the London School of Economics – Dr Ellen Nolte; Partner at Capsticks Solicitors LLP – Chris Brophy; the Chair of the MHRA – Sir Mike Rawlins; Commissioning Policy Lead at the Department of Health - Jonathan Walden; Senior Clinical Fellow at Imperial College – Professor Mala Rao and GP – Prakash Chatlani, which included a visit to his GP practice in Willesden; Chair of one of the Appraisal Committees at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham - Professor Andrew Stevens; Director of King's Imaging Technology Evaluation Centre (KiTEC) - Professor Stephen Keevil; Director of Strategy at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – Dr Anne Mottram; Chief Executive at the Nuffield Trust - Mr Nigel Edwards and Deputy Director of IGHI - Professor Guang-Zhong Yang.  

Chinese leaders also presented their innovative work including the integrated healthcare pilots in Xiamen targeted to reduce average waiting time in secondary and tertiary care for hypertension and diabetes patients. These pilots have shown to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare for their population.

Working together

A key element of the visit was to finalise the first ever collaboration between the CNHDRC and the IGHI, following on an existing partnership between the Global Health and Development Group and CNHDRC, by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) setting out the key themes on which the two institutions will collaborate. 

Professor Yang and Ms Wei Fu signing the MOU

Professor Yang and Ms Wei Fu signing the MOU

The aims of the partnership include: providing support in establishing an institutional mechanism to facilitate evidence-informed priority setting for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in China including a framework for evaluating the clinical and cost effectiveness of health technologies; designing an evidence informed implementation framework for HTA and clinical guidelines ; providing training and capacity building at UK institutions and organising study tours to the UK for policy makers to learn about the NHS and research; learn about policy developments in the UK and for bringing lessons from China back to our NHS. 

Additionally, the collaboration will seek to explore the value of eHealth and big data in healthcare decision making, including through research partnerships and quality improvement policy evaluations.    

Commenting on the visit, Kalipso Chalkidou, Director of the Global Health and Development group, said: "This is a unique opportunity for us at Imperial and the Institute for Global Health Innovation, to reiterate our commitment to working together with our Chinese counterparts drawing on the skills and expertise not only of the College but also of the broader NHS within which we operate through our Academic Health Science Centre, as China is scaling up its reforms towards high quality affordable Universal Healthcare Coverage. We are honoured to be trusted partners of CNHDRC and the Health and Family Planning Commission and we look forward to learning from one another and partnering up on technical cooperation as well as research and institutional twinning and capacity building projects."

The two-week-long tailored training programme really helps me much better understand the UK's National Health Service, GP system, medicine regulation, NCD management as well as health technology assessment.

– Xu Ji

Programme Officer at the NHFPC

A representative of the Chinese delegation, Xu Ji, programme officer at the NHFPC, said about the visit: "It was a great honour for me to have paid a visit to Imperial College London, a world-renowned University. The two-week-long tailored training programme really helps me much better understand the UK's National Health Service, GP system, medicine regulation, NCD management as well as health technology assessment. Many of the experiences and lessons regarding healthcare reform in UK can be well learned and widely shared by its Chinese peers. I do appreciate the great efforts made by China National Health Development Research Center and Imperial College London to organise such a successful programme and firmly believe that the fruitful cooperation between the two institutions would benefit the knowledge and information exchange in pressing health-related issues among the policy makers and scholars from both countries and furtherly, enhance the relationship in health sector between China and UK."

In his closing remarks, Deputy Director of IGHI, Professor Guang-Zhong Yang said “We are very grateful to iDSI and the Global Health Development Group for providing this key opportunity to work together and are delighted that the collaborations that were set up while the Global Health Development group was still at NICE will now be continued from within IGHI. This in turn will also add new collaboration between the other departments within IGHI and Imperial as a whole and we are very much look forward to working together on this highly important piece of work.” 

The full Chinese delegation

The full Chinese delegation


Jo Seed

Jo Seed
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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