7-day services hit for six at Taunton County Ground

NHS England South has held the first of a series of four events aimed at engaging the health and social care community on 7-Day Services. Regional Medical Director Nigel Acheson discusses some of the key themes raised by delegates:

While England toil in the heat of Australasia for the Cricket World Cup, cooler surroundings at Somerset County Cricket Club welcomed over 80 colleagues from across the field of health and social care, from primary care to the third sector, and providers to commissioners.

My last blog outlined the challenges and questions for professionals as we attempt to make 7-Day Services a reality for patients.

The first of our four regional events that will seek to answer these contained insightful presentations, including Di Vegh offering a patient and carer perspective on 7 day services and the experience of an early adopter organisation; County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. The presentations can be accessed on the NHS IQ website.

Some key themes emerged from the day:

  • There is an opportunity to improve services by bringing all organisations together; health, social care, third sector, patient/ public groups must work closely with each other to develop 7 day services locally;
  • Discussion groups paid particular attention to Standard 9, sharing experiences and ideas about how to “Support services, both in the hospital and in primary, community and mental health settings …seven days a week…” emphasising the need to work across professional boundaries;
  • The need to think differently in order to rise to the challenges in the Five Year Forward View – for example, around the workforce required to deliver services and the critical role that technology and information must play.

Simon Stevens spoke this week about the fact that no industry has reinvented itself at the scale that we need without a strong underpinning of technology.

I was also really pleased about the value that the organisations who attended placed upon their participation. For example, Solveig Samson, Head of Commissioning for Integration at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, told me: “7 day services have been on our radar for a while, but I don’t think any of us have really seized it until today. We’ve read the guidance, signed up for the online assessment tool – even run a couple of pilots – but we’ve lacked a plan on how we can make it work.

“Hearing from other areas was helpful. County Durham made it work – we would have welcomed more time to pick their brains about what worked for them.

“The guidance could do with a refresh to acknowledge that out of hospital care needs to gear up for 7 days too – not every single service, but not just skeleton cover either. We need to ask patients and the public what they expect – we should be doing it for better patient outcomes not just to make Monday mornings easier in hospital.

“Those around the table agreed to formulate our own key priorities, get each of our organisations to sign up to them, and then set out the steps we need to take over weeks, months, and years to get going. As was said, this is evolution not revolution.”

Did you attend the event in Taunton? Are you attending one of our three remaining events?

I’d really welcome comments on what you see as the challenges, solutions, and any best practice you are aware of.

You can also comment on Twitter via #7dayservices.

NHS Improving Quality is working with NHS England to support the delivery of 7 day services – delegates were really pleased to learn about the resources available to them to put words into action. Organisations can contact to find out more:

The 7 day services innings follows-on from Taunton and continues to Reading for the South Central sub region. Some places are still available for the March 11 event – I hope attendees will be bowled over by the close of play!

Nigel Acheson

Nigel Acheson is Regional Medical Director and Higher Level Responsible Officer for the South Region of NHS England. With a population of 13.4 million, the Region stretches from Cornwall to Kent and includes the cities of Bristol, Oxford and Southampton.

Born in Belfast, Nigel trained in Birmingham and was appointed as a consultant gynaecological oncologist in 2002, moving to the Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) Hospital in Exeter to help develop the Gynaecological Cancer Centre there and learn to sail.

From his time as a National Advisor and Clinical Lead to the Department of Health’s Enhanced Recovery Partnership Programme, Nigel actively promotes the involvement of patients as partners in their care. Whilst Medical Director for the Peninsula Cancer Network in the South West of England, Nigel helped to re-establish the patient and public group with the chair and vice-chair becoming members of the network Board.

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