Viewpoint: CCGs can learn primary care integration from China

I recently had the privilege of visiting China to look at their healthcare system - it's the fourth time I've been abroad on similar fact-finding missions.

This time our team were looking to establish research partnerships with organisations struggling with the demographic changes wrought by population and lifestyle changes.

Every trip is different. Sometimes I see details which can be incorporated into the way the NHS functions, sometimes I see pitfalls that we have or should avoid.

China has traditional medicine, people, money, hospitals and beds galore. It lacks general practice, general practitioners and a national health service.

Relief to return to the NHS but...

There was a lot to see and much work to be done but returning to the UK came with a sense of relief to be back in a system which does not have a payment office opposite reception, in which access to general practice is plentiful and free.

However, there is one aspect of the Chinese system of which we should take note. Seamless integration of out-of-hospital services centred around units which combine diagnostics, outpatients, primary care and public health, alongside a general practice which also managed the equivalent of the integrated nursing home.

We have all of those components but their function is fragmented by organisation. Even our practices are fragmented into small units swimming against a rising tide of demand.

Soon many of us will be commissioning that element of the system, along with secondary care. Change will be needed, but care is required. Remember, don't push too hard because your dreams are like China in your hands.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP and co-director of clincial strategy at Liverpool Health Partners.

Photo: UNP

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

X-ray sign

Spike in TB cases prompts public health warning

Cases of TB in England have risen by 7% compared with last year, prompting a warning...

COVID-19 vaccine

GPs demand investigation as winter vaccine 'mismanagement' risks patient safety

GP leaders in England have demanded an investigation into 'mismanagement' of this...

Medical centre sign

GP 'engineering' fears as small practice contracts offered on branch-only basis

GP leaders have raised concerns over the 'engineering' of general practice after...

Close up of BMA official picket armband

SAS doctors in England to hold indicative ballot on strike action

Specialist, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors in England could join...

BMA sign

BMA to oppose expansion of physician associate roles amid safety concerns

Doctors' leaders will oppose government plans to expand use of physician associates...

Doctor strikes

Public strongly back talks and new pay offer to end doctor strikes

The general public believe the government should reopen talks to end doctor strikes...