Collaboration is key…part two

It’s almost a year since I wrote my collaboration is key blog and in the time since then our partnership arrangements are proving to be crucial. This is being driven by the need to develop a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Leeds and West Yorkshire.

The STP will shape how the future commissioning and provider landscape looks in the future both locally and nationally. There are 44 ‘footprints’ nationally that bring together health and care leaders, organisations and communities together to develop local blueprints for improved health, care and finances over the next five years.

We’re also looking at how care can be delivered differently in the future using something called the ‘new models of care’ outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

So with these two major pieces of work taking place, collaboration is key.

One of the questions we’re looking to address is ‘how can we commission services at a West Yorkshire wide level?’ I’m sure you’ll be well versed with the challenges the NHS is facing, with many commentators claiming these are the toughest times the service has seen since it was founded in 1948.

It’s against this backdrop that we need to work in a different way. To help us find a common ground for commissioning at scale, the Accountable Officers of the West Yorkshire CCGs will be meeting on 2 September. Ahead of that meeting we’ll be sharing progress on the STP with local partners so that they can be assured we’re working together to find the right solutions for our diverse communities.

The other word on everyone’s lips at the moment is integration. We’ve already seen what can be achieved by working better together courtesy of the Leeds Care Record. This now means that people across health and care are being able to access information they need to ensure the best possible care for patients.

I’m pleased to see the progress we’re making on integrated cancer services. Leeds is an internationally-recognised city for cancer care and we need to build on this reputation.  One of the ways we’re doing this is by improving diagnosis rates.

Leeds is one of six pilot schemes across England aiming to speed up diagnosis of otherwise unexplained, non-specific symptoms which are of medical concern. Instead of sending our patients to and from their GP for a series of inconclusive tests we will offer fast access to a wide-ranging set of diagnostic skills and tests in cases where it is not obvious to referring doctors which clinical service is appropriate.

Integration (and yes, collaboration) is how we can make the new models of care work in Leeds. We’re already seeing great examples of providers collaborating in Armley and in Pudsey, now we as commissioners need to support them.

The new models of care will help us change the default position of getting the hospitals to pick up the treatment of our patients. This is because we’ve not been able to keep people healthy at home and in their communities. We need to change this, so that when people attend A&E they really do need to be there and not simply because the system has been set up to almost encourage people to end up in hospital.

And when I talk about providers integrating and collaborating we mustn’t forget primary care. Again there’s been excellent progress in the last year.  GPs are having similar conversations and building key partnerships both among themselves and with other providers. The Leeds West Primary Care Network has now been established and I look forward to working with them.

With all this change on the horizon it’s natural that colleagues in the system are nervous about the future.  We held a time out for senior management team to see what the future might look like and how the commissioner/provider dynamic will change. We also wanted to see how we could support staff through the transition to a different way of working.

I’d like to say that to all colleagues that you will be in charge of your destiny. This means it’s important you take responsibility for your career progression as well as understanding how the future health and care landscape will look like.

One thing that stands out for me is the resilience shown by staff despite the apparent doom and gloom within the NHS, if certain headlines are to be believed. Even though a number will have seen the negative effects of changes to the system there appears to be greater signs of positivity among colleagues.

We now need to harness that positivity so people consider what skills they need to help them in the future.

Away from the world of collaboration and integration I’m pleased to say that my youngest daughter passed her A levels. She will now be studying International Business at the University of Sheffield which includes a four month stint in Australia – so she’ll be collaborating on an international scale!

I hope this update from last year’s blog shows how far we’ve come, as ever I’d welcome your views.


Philomena Corrigan is the Chief Executive for NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group