NHS launches new collaboration to sustain and improve local hospitals

The NHS today (20 May) invites expressions of interest from hospitals across England interested in developing new ways of delivering and improving their local acute services.

The aim is to enhance the viability of local hospitals through new formal shared working arrangements between clinical specialists at different hospitals, and to improve efficiency by sharing back office administration and management between different sites.

The new ‘vanguard’ sites, to be developed as part of implementing the Five Year Forward View, build on the proposals in the recent report from Sir David Dalton.

On the vanguards, NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “Rather than automatically assuming that centralised, ‘bigger is better’ we want to test new ways of sustaining local NHS hospital services, with more sharing of medical expertise across sites, and more efficiency from shared back office administration.”

The main focus – led by Monitor, NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England – will be to support providers of acute services to develop new arrangements that can be replicated across England at scale and for the new models to improve quality, productivity and efficiency.

Invitations are now being sought from all providers of acute services – including small hospitals.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate how their proposals will help promote the health and well-being of the populations they serve, increasing the quality and person-centredness of care, and improve efficiency for the taxpayer within available resources.

The initiative completes the plan for a new generation of care models put forward in the NHS Five Year Forward View to transform the way care is delivered across the NHS.

Samantha Jones, Director of the New Care Models programme, said: “The Five Year Forward View set out the need to do things differently across the NHS to continue to provide world-class care for patients in a clinically and financially sustainable way – pioneering new models of care is key to realising that ambition.

“We are making strong progress and, after extensive discussions with stakeholders, we are ready to embark on developing new models of acute care collaboration.”

Paul Dinkin, National Lead for the New Models of Acute Care Collaboration and a Provider Sustainability Director at Monitor, said: “The new vanguards will be supported to rethink their clinical models beyond existing organisational boundaries or their local health care system. Ways of preserving local access to sustainable high quality services and reducing variations in the quality and cost of care may be through innovative forms of accountable clinical networks, creating chains of multiple NHS organisations, or setting up speciality NHS franchises.”

Ralph Coulbeck, Director of Strategy at the NHS Trust Development Authority said: “Hospital services are under real pressure so this process offers an important opportunity to rethink and improve traditional models of acute care. Increased collaboration and greater standardisation are at the heart of these care models and have great potential to improve quality and efficiency. We hope that the sector responds positively to this timely opportunity.”

While the 29 current vanguards are about moving specialist care into the community, joining up GP, community and mental health services and offering better joined up care for people in care homes, the new additional sites will focus on promoting collaboration between acute providers.

In the light of the findings of the Dalton Review, these new models may include greater use of clinical networks across nearby sites, joint ventures between NHS organisations, or the delivery of specialist single services across a number of different providers.

The closing date for applications is the end of July and the programme anticipates announcing a small number of vanguard sites by September.

Successful applicants will be expected to make swift progress and will receive financial and practical support to help them do so. The new care models programme is backed by the £200m Transformation Fund.

For further information about new acute models of collaboration and guidance on the application process, go to the: ‘Acute care collaboration’ webpage.

To follow the latest conversation on the new care models, follow #futureNHS.