7-day services are on everyone’s lips

A DEBATE on 7-Day Services held by the Health Service Journal’s online “Conversation” received no fewer than 6,118 contributions from 1,083 people.

The keen interest in the debate goes to highlight what a major issue 7-Day Services is for the future of NHS England, its patients and key stakeholders.

The online discussion, in which a wide variety of people from Whitehall policy makers through to Trust directors, clinicians and patients groups took part, comes as the NHS 7-Days Services Forum set up in February continues to gather evidence from five work streams.

The HSJ’s Head of Production, Andrew Snowball, who oversaw the project said he was “really surprised” at the huge response to the debate, adding: “We had a wide range of responses from diverse people within the health service.

“The fact that people treated it sensibly and got stuck in, giving us detailed responses and commenting on other people’s ideas, made it a truly worthwhile exercise. And because they didn’t have to reveal who they were, they could talk openly. We are able to synthesise their ideas and that makes it really interesting.”

Mr Snowball explained the initial question posed to readers was: “What are the behaviour and process changes you believe are needed for the NHS to deliver consistent, financially sustainable 24/7 working?”

Readers were invited to contribute ideas online using crowdsourcing technology provided by Clever Together. They could enter their own answers and comment on other people’s views.  Contributors then filtered out the best and worst ideas by voting them up or down. The conversation ran for three weeks.

“We are now carrying out analysis on the 6,000 responses. We have taken the blue sky thinking and put those ideas to one side to consider at a later date. The rest of the responses have been put into three discussion streams.”

They are:

  • Specific ideas for consideration by Trust leaders.
  • Action that is needed at a national level – such as new contracts.
  • Big picture questions that may shape the national debate over 7-day Services.

The HSJ intends to publish the findings of its analysis on the 7-Day Services question towards the end of September, both online and in the magazine. At which point it also hopes to carry reaction to its findings from the some of the work stream leads on the NHS 7-Day Services Forum.

“At the centre of our coverage will be details of the ideas for bringing in 7-Day Services that scored the highest among our readers, as well as discussion and comment from leading NHSIQ and NHS England figures,” added Mr Snowball.

“What has been interesting for us is bringing together our readers who stretch across a number of areas and organisations that work within or serve the NHS. It has provided a forum for them to tackle this big issue, and it is something we will want to do in the future when looking at other major NHS issues.

“We are certainly going to be tracking the progress of the 7-days Forum as it goes forward.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s Medical Director, who established the 7-Day Services Forum in February, said: “I welcome the HSJ’s online discussion and its input into the 7-Day Services debate generally.

“Half the battle with this project is engaging with people who work with or for the NHS, as well as with patients. It means we can lay some of the wilder fears about this to rest, while also exploring new ideas and approaches to making it a working reality in the future, right across the country and in all services.”

We will be carrying interviews with each of the 7-Day Services Forum’s work stream leads over the next few weeks.