A delegation of Russian government ministers has arrived in the UK to examine the way in which health care is delivered.
The officials are focusing on the city of Bristol as part of a wider visit to look at health provision in South West England and to find out why people live longer in the region than anywhere else in the UK.
People in Russia face a much shorter life expectancy than in the UK. The South West boasts 78.1 years for men and 82.2 years for women. In Russia, where almost 65 per cent of men smoke, the expectancy for men is 58.5 years, and 71.9 for women.
The group included regional government ministers and officials from the Federal Ministry of Health in Moscow on a visit funded by a European Union programme – which is focused on reforming health and social welfare systems in the Russian Federation.
They requested the tour to see how the NHS managed financial resources to deliver free health care.
Although Russia is not an EU candidate country, it aims to co-operate in areas of public health and social development.
“The Soviet system of public health, which Russia inherited, was very keen on social prevention and health promotion,” a spokesman for the group said.
“However, that system was effective only in conditions of mass government spending on health care.
“With the transition of modern Russia from a centrally-financed system to modern market economy, new mechanisms of public health care financing became necessary.”
Sir Ian Carruthers chief executive of NHS South West, said: “Health services in the South West are improving and our region has the highest life expectancy in England.
“While there is still much to do, it will be a privilege to share our experiences with those who are shaping the future of health care in Russia.”