Brighton hosts UK-China knowledge exchange on health and social care

14 November 2017

A wide range of researchers, health commissioners, local government officials and health care providers from Brighton and Hove and China met in Brighton Town Hall to discuss how health and welfare systems can adapt and innovate to meet the realities of a rapidly growing older population.

Chinese delegation meeting at Brighton Town Hall

The representatives from China and Brighton and Hove meet at Brighton Town Hall 

UK-China knowledge exchange

The visiting delegation from China including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and the YouChange Foundation, were hosted for the day by Brighton and Hove City Council and the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies.  The event also featured presentations from the University of Brighton and Tunstall from the private sector, and provided an important opportunity for participants to share learning from across the two countries.

Discussions focused on the vision for health care provision in Brighton and Hove and the experiences of the UK more broadly, which next year will celebrate 70 years of the NHS, alongside the experiences and pilot projects from health services in Chinese cities.  Both the UK and Chinese health systems are having to adapt and evolve in response to changing population demographics.

Geoff Raw, chief executive of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “The opportunity to share knowledge with professionals facing similar challenges in China as we ourselves are tackling here in Brighton & Hove was hugely beneficial for all involved. On a personal level, being part of the discussion and meeting the delegates was a fascinating experience providing insight I will be sharing with colleagues at all levels. 

“This is also only the start of the collaboration. We’re working on a series of events aiming to foster economic ties between the Greater Brighton region and China. It has been estimated that should exports to the EU fall by ten per cent in the wake of Brexit, to compensate the UK will need to triple its exports to China, the USA and India amongst other major global markets. The city council is currently exploring the opportunity to make Brighton Town Hall a regional hub for business and to promote international exports and inward investment.”

China delegation meeting at Brighton Town Hall

The meeting underway in the Council Chamber at Brighton and Hove Town Hall 

Exploring new technologies and reducing ineffeciency

Common to both the UK and China is the fact that health services and social care are managed separately and are not integrated in to one system, despite the large impact one has on the other in relation to care for older people.  New technologies, reducing inefficiencies and the mix between government provided services and private market solutions were other areas of mutual interest.  The potential for remote primary health care services provided using digital technologies were also of particular interest.

The Chinese experience of encouraging older people to become more active participants in their health and social care, using community based pilot projects where they can actively decide on which services would benefit them most was also explored in more detail.

Fang Lijie, Associate Professor and Deputy Director at the Department of Social Policy, Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said: “The Chinese population is ageing very fast and health services are currently not prepared to meet that challenge.  We can learn lessons from other countries and innovate to help address this.”

IDS is based in Brighton, but is part of a much wider global network, which includes an International Centre Partnership with the Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). 

Gerry Bloom, IDS Research Fellow, who leads the Partnership, said: “As an institute based in the city of Brighton and Hove, it has been a privilege for IDS to be able to collaborate with Brighton and Hove Council and our partner, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to help convene this learning exchange. 

“Sharing respective experiences of common problems can help broaden the way we approach challenges and this principle is central to IDS’ engaged excellence approach. We hope it is just the beginning of a conversation and a wider knowledge exchange between Brighton and Hove and Chinese cities that can be built upon in the future.”

Photo credits: Sophie Robinson/IDS and Brighton and Hove Council