The new care models programme was launched in 2015, with 50 vanguards testing and implementing new ways of working across NHS and care services. Here David Probert, Chief Executive, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Jacob West, Care Model Lead, NHS England talk about a new Moorfields’ initiative which is supporting local hospitals to retain specialist services.
“Seeing the specialist at the hospital” – one of the most stressful experiences for a patient with its potential for both further worry and reassurance. How helpful it must be for those patients who can see their consultant close to their own home rather than after a long journey to an unfamiliar area.
However, it is increasingly difficult for some hospitals to deliver safe and cost effective care, particularly in the smaller clinical specialties. They’re just too small to offer the critical mass of patient numbers or specialist staff and equipment needed to keep going.
This can mean variation in clinical outcomes and effectiveness. Patients may have to travel more often and further for appointments. Opportunities to develop new treatments or participate in research could be missed. And services may not be financially sustainable, meaning hospitals may have to stop running them.
For more than 20 years, Moorfields Eye Hospital has been developing a different model.
It operates its services across a number of different sites – 32 at the last count in the UK and three in the United Arab Emirates.
In 2015, Moorfields was chosen as one of the 13 acute care collaboration vanguards. These sites are testing different ways in which hospitals can collaborate to improve the quality of care patients receive to prevent ill health and to improve their financial sustainability.
Moorfields has spent the past year testing its belief that its ‘networked care’ model could help struggling specialty services stay local.
It has developed a unique toolkit, launched on 3 April, containing a wealth of learning not only from its own experience but also that of other providers here and overseas who offer a networked care model. It’s also learned from hospitals who might consider the model as a solution to their difficulties, particularly what they would look for it to deliver.
The toolkit has a wealth of practical advice, templates, films and guidance to help hospitals, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and other partners to decide whether and how this model could help them.
It addresses a range of the strategic and practical challenges to implementing networked services of this kind: from staff costs to technology; from making the space work to agreeing a contract.
This won’t be a solution for all specialties or hospitals. But for many it may be part of the answer to improving the quality and sustainability of local services.
And for patients that may mean taking a little stress out of that important appointment with the specialist.