With the procurement phase of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) completed, NHS IT director-general Richard Granger has begun to deliver on his promise to explain what the NPfIT will deliver… beginning with a three-day mission to China.


Granger was part of an official DTI and Foreign and Commonwealth Official visit last week that met with the Chinese national and regional Government and health officials to discuss the approach taken by the National Programme for IT in the NHS and the impact this would have on the delivery of e-health applications and services.


Other high profile members of the delegation included Ricky Richardson, chair of the UK E-Health Association and Professor Richard Kitney, dean of the faculty of engineering at Imperial College London


During the visit the delegation met with national and regional Chinese government and health officials to discuss the approach taken by the NPfIT in the NHS and the impact this would have on the delivery of e-health applications and services.


The main aim of the visit was to develop a dialogue with the Chinese government and industry on e-health.  The visit included a major seminar held in Beijing on 29 March.  According to the sources close to the NPfIT the event provided a forum to demonstrate to a large audience the UK’s global lead on e-health policy and programme and to identify possible opportunities for the UK e-health industry to work with China.


The British government is understood to be extremely keen to export its experience in e-health and national-level procurements of IT applications and services to other countries, including China, particularly in achieving major savings in software licensing costs and enterprise-wide systems and services.   


EHI understands that Granger has a number of further overseas trips planned  to extol the merits of the procurement approach taken by the NPfIT in England.   Recent evangelising has also included providing useful pointers to the US healthcare industry on how to sort out its IT at February’s Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMMS) conference in Florida.


The UK has been developing an active working relationship with the Chinese government on ICT issues. In 2001 the DTI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s Ministry of Information Industry to establish a programme of joint e-policy seminars, bilateral policy discussions and information exchange.


An NPfIT source suggested that there could be significant opportunities for suppliers to the NHS and to NPfIT to consider the business potential in China.