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As the New Care Models Programme marks its first anniversary, the Associate Director of Operations at Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust and one of the partnership’s programme directors, discusses the progress they’ve made so far:
Cheshire and Merseyside Women’s and Children’s Services was one of the 13 vanguards chosen in 2015 to develop future models of acute care collaboration.
As a vanguard, the scale of our work and the resulting difference we can make by working together is incredibly exciting – we cover a patient population of 2.4 million and enjoy the active participation of 27 providers, commissioners and clinical and delivery networks across Cheshire and Merseyside.
We’re facing some immediate challenges in terms of the variations in service delivery, clinical outcomes and patient experience, and our work is aimed at developing a partnership that ensures a consistently high clinical quality and patient experience across maternity, gynaecology, neonatal and paediatric services.
We’re doing this by working together to create a new approach between commissioners, clinicians and providers that will take away the variation by standardising pathways and developing new models of care that are financially sustainable.
There was initially some fear of a drive towards centralisation, but the vision supporting our new care model is to keep services local where we can and only centralise where we have to – focusing instead on building close working relationships.
Working more closely together is also allowing us to bolster this approach through better engagement with the people who use our services and the ability to create a more personalised offer for them.
And we don’t want to drag our heels – one of the reasons for applying for vanguard status was to get the funding and support to deliver the changes needed at pace.
So far we’ve brought clinicians from across the patch together at two major summits, and we’re setting up paediatric, maternity and gynaecology networks that previously didn’t exist, to look at improving services across the region.
Locally, teams have been piloting some new care models by allowing hospital paediatricians to work alongside primary care clinicians to test new ways of working together.
Competition won’t help us deliver on the challenges we face, and the mind-set is already changing. Those involved have gone from thinking about their own individual organisations, to collaborating across the entire footprint of the region. There is an increasing recognition that we must work together to remain sustainable, and we’re now moving forward at a clinical level.
The support we’re receiving is helping us look beyond organisational boundaries when we address issues that we all share, such as recruitment, retention, retirement and skills mix, as well as overall financial sustainability.
So, this is all about collaboration not competition, and about sharing resources rather than centralisation.
Our focus remains firmly on our patients and their families, and how we can deliver the best care for them, in the best place, wherever they live and whichever service they use – whether that’s in their community or at a specialist unit.