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  • Contract signed for multi-million-pound partnership between UK and China 

    A partnership between health and care leaders in Northumberland and in the UK and a leading group in China to share expertise on providing high quality health and social care has taken a major step forward.

    The contract for the first stage of a long-term collaboration between The Rongqiao Group in China, and UK partners Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland County Council, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and architects BDP has been signed. The partnership will lead to the introduction of joined-up health and care in state-of-the-art facilities in China.

    The deal – arranged under the umbrella of NHS Northumbria International Alliance, a body set up by Northumbria Healthcare and the county council which provides health and social care expertise to support organisations across the globe – will see millions of pounds generated and re-invested in patient care in the UK.

    The Rongqiao Group, an internationally-renowned and highly-respected large-scale property development company with experience in the residential, hotel and education sectors, has sought NHS expertise to help it move into healthcare. It plans to invest more than £1bn to build 10 hospitals across China.

    The initial stage will see the UK partners supporting The Rongqiao Group with all elements of building a world-class multi-specialty hospital with a cancer centre of excellence in Fuzhou, the capital of the Fujian Province.

    For many years, Northumbria Healthcare and the county council have worked together as ‘Northumbria’ in a unique collaboration to provide integrated health and social care, ensuring patients move seamlessly from hospital to home and are keen to share this expertise internationally.

    Alan Richardson, chairman of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted that the contract for the first stage of our partnership has been signed and we can move forward with our plans to support our colleagues in China.

    “Drawing on our vast experience of providing joined-up health and social care for our patients and creating new ways of working to benefit our communities, we look forward to working with them to progress a true NHS partnership approach to international development.”

    Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “In Northumberland we are at the forefront of providing health and social care in England and it is with great honour, therefore, that we can support other countries as they develop their capability within the health and care sector, and learn from our partners on such exciting projects.

    “We are thrilled to be working collaboratively with a number of partners which brings welcome income into the health and care services which is then reinvested in care for patients and service users across Northumberland.”

    Roger Spencer, chief executive officer at The Christie, said: “The Christie is delighted to be involved in this exciting development and is fully committed to working in partnership with Rongqiao to establish world-leading cancer services in Fuzhou.

    “As an international comprehensive cancer centre, our ambition is to be the partner of choice in offering specialist cancer expertise to support the development of the highest quality cancer care in China.”

    Jared Djuhar, director of Rongqiao Group, said: “Agreeing this partnership with Northumbria, The Christie, BDP and partners represents a major step forward for our long-term vision to support improved medical care in China, starting with a world-class facility in Fuzhou.

    “Northumbria’s successful experience in integrated care in the UK brings the best of the NHS to our project. Its expertise in patient-centred care, in workforce optimisation and in lean health and care delivery is immensely valuable to our collaboration. The Christie delivers world-class cancer management, research and training and education. Both Northumbria and the Christie are rated as ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission and we look forward to progressing our work with them.”

    BDP, a major international practice of architects, designers, engineers and urbanists, will provide architecture and design services for the project. BDP has studios across the world including China and has supported many NHS organisations in the UK to create facilities for improved care.

    Andrew Smith, head of healthcare at BDP, said: “BDP looks forward to the opportunity of working with Northumbria, The Christie and the Rongqiao Group. We are excited about the prospect of collaborating with the NHS to bring UK hospital experience to the Chinese healthcare market.”

    In addition to this exciting project in Fuzhou, the Rongqiao Group has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Northumbria for its next project, the development of a 500-bed world-class cancer hospital and community and elderly care services in Chongqing, south west China’s commercial capital. Like Fuzhou, this will bring the oncology expertise of The Christie with facilities-design capabilities of BDP and integrated health and social care experience of Northumbria.