Kenneth Clarke on mission to export NHS expertise to China

Delegation of 50, including representatives of private sector, will showcase British health knowledge in five cities

Kenneth Clarke, the former health secretary, who introduced the internal market into the NHS, is to “export” elements of the NHS to China in a trade mission this week. The minister without portfolio is taking a 50-strong delegation of health experts from the NHS and the private sector after the government identified the Chinese healthcare market as a “high value opportunity”.

Clarke’s trade mission, which follows a visit by David Cameron last month to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, includes representatives of the private health sector including Bupa and ICNet, the leading healthcare software provider. The NHS is represented by Papworth NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Free Foundation Trust.

As he left the UK for China, Clarke said: “The British healthcare system is the best in the world, and there will be important export opportunities as China invests huge sums of money in its healthcare system over the years ahead. Healthcare and life sciences are among the strongest sectors of the British economy and our standards are held in high regard overseas.

“As a country, we must play to our strengths if we are to continue to build a healthy, modern economy, and there can be no doubt that exports in this area will play an important part. From building a hospital to training the staff to building the IT and management systems, the UK has the expertise that China needs as it builds a healthcare system that is projected to be spending a trillion dollars every year by 2020.”

Clarke, who will celebrate his 74th birthday in July, is to visit five Chinese cities in as many days. He will kick off the visit in Beijing on Monday where he will meet the Chinese health minister Li Bin. They will open a joint conference on dementia which was highlighted by Cameron last year during Britain’s presidency of the G8. Clarke will then visit Tianjin on Tuesday, Nanjing on Wednesday, Zhejiang on Thursday and Shanghai on Friday.

Britain is keen to exploit opportunities in China after spending on healthcare there increased from 1% of GDP in 2002 to 5.15% today. Health spending is expected to reach $1tn by 2020, by which time it is estimated that 95% of the population have health insurance in some form. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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