Overcoming the challenges facing NHS providers

Leaders of NHS provider organisations in the North joined a panel on the at Health and Innovation Expo 2015 to discuss the issues facing their organisations and what the solutions are or may be – both at present and in the future.

Introduced and chaired by Rob Webster, chief executive of NHS Confederation, the panel featured Sir David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal NHSFT; Thea Stein, chief executive of Leeds Community Healthcare NHST; Michael McCourt, chief executive of Pennine Care NHSFT, and Joe Rafferty, chief executive of Mersey Care NHST.

All the leaders agreed on the biggest challenges faced in secondary care as laid out initially by Thea Stein: the recruitment of staff, and particularly nurses; changing demographics, particularly people living longer but with long term conditions, as well as children surviving what once might have been fatal conditions, but needing complex care to support them; finding the efficiencies needed to remain sustainable, and; working with disparate primary care providers in their areas to cope with these problems.

They also agreed that more of the same would not meet these challenges. Sir David Dalton, whose organisation is part of the New Models of Care Vanguards programme, noted: “If all we do is be better at what we’re doing now, that won’t be good enough. We need to do things differently…if we know what the evidence of best practice is, why don’t we organise ourselves to make it standard practice?”

Michael McCourt supported that theme, discussing the need to drive integration between NHS bodies, but also then with other agencies, such as councils and housing organisations, on prevention and improving outcomes in a more joined up way – as he said, seeing the NHS as a community asset rather than standalone organisations.

Joe Rafferty stressed the need for mental health services to be truly integrated and on a par with physical health services.

He also discussed the role that patients and members of the community can play in shaping better services, such as the work that Mersey Care are doing in employing people with lived experience of mental health services to provide a new kind of challenge to clinicians and managers when decisions are being taken on how the organisation is run and services are delivered.

The Chair’s last question was how confident the leaders were for the future for patients; the majority of the panel expressed real optimism, with Sir David Dalton remarking: “The NHS will survive and prosper, as long as its leaders adapt.”

Michael McCourt agreed, noting: “It’s up to leaders like us to support the frontline staff to improve services.”