A drive to “sell” the NHS brand and British-based private health companies to China has been launched by Kenneth Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio.
He is in China for a week-long visit at the head of a 50-strong health and social care delegation from 38 British firms, universities and training hospitals. Chinese health spending has soared from 1 per cent of GDP in 2002 to 5.15 per cent and is projected to reach a $1trn (£600bn) by 2020.
Mr Clarke, a roving trade envoy, 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 UK, the government agency which promotes the sector abroad, has already helped win £233m in contracts in China. Labour has criticised the involvement of the NHS as “rampant commercialisation” but the previous Labour government tried to set up a profit-making arm.