Foundation Healthcare Group (Dartford and Gravesham)

The vanguard and the people it serves

Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust are exploring the option of linking up to create a Foundation Healthcare Group. By forming this kind of group, the two trusts will be able to work together more closely in a planned way to improve care, without the formal organisational change of a merger or acquisition.

Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust provides a full range of local hospital services for people living in North Kent and Bexley, south east London. The Trust works with partners to provide a range of specialist services locally and offers a number of regional services including stone and kidney care. The Trust has a rapidly increasing population due to local housing developments in Dartford and the development of a Healthier New Town in Ebbsfleet.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust provides a full range of local hospital and community services for people living in the south London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. The Trust also provides specialist care for patients from further afield, including cancer and cardiothoracic services. Evelina London Children’s Hospital at St Thomas’ provides general and specialist services for children from London, south east England and further afield.

The Foundation Healthcare Group aims to enhance the standard of care our patients receive, patient outcomes and their experience. To achieve this, the group will improve the sustainability of local services by working more effectively together, sharing learning and standardising practice.

What is changing?

The two trusts are using the funding and expertise offered by the national support team for vanguards to assess the options they have for linking up more closely without needing to go through the expense and upheaval of becoming a single organisation.

The two trusts want to work together as the Foundation Healthcare Group to create local, sustainable services that will help them offer consistently better care for patients; delivered locally where possible and in a more cost effective way.

By working in closer partnership, the trusts will make best use of scarce resource in ways that others across the NHS can learn from and replicate.

They will do this by:

  • Sharing resources to enable them to meet the challenge of more and more demand for NHS services whilst also becoming more financially sustainable;
  • Reducing differences in the care that patients receive across the two trusts;
  • Sharing information and knowledge, and supporting teams to work more closely together and share their resources; and
  • Giving staff more opportunities to learn new skills and deliver better care for patients.

Key benefits

  • More and better quality care available for patients close to home
  • Better value for money for the NHS
  • Consistent, high quality care for all patients.

Contact Foundation Healthcare Group

Website: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust
Website: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Case studies

1. How working together will improve care

The Trusts already work closely together to deliver some services, particularly more specialist services. As part of the vanguard programme clinicians across vascular, cardiology and children’s services are working to consider what more they could do to improve patient care and test how beneficial the Foundation Healthcare Group could be for patients, clinicians and the sustainability of local services.

For example, Dartford and Gravesham is working with Evelina London Children’s Hospital – part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ – to bring specialist care closer to home for families.

Care will be co-ordinated by specialist teams to offer the best experience and results for children and families, no matter where they live, while ensuring local services are supported and financially sustainable.

The teams will develop new ways of working and share their clinical expertise to offer care outside of the specialist hospital where possible and centrally only when necessary.

This will mean patients are able to receive care at a local centre rather than having to travel to London every time they need specialist treatment.

Delivering more specialist services from local hospitals rather than in central, specialist centres will also help each hospital’s finances, whilst at the same time resulting in cost savings overall.

This short film outlines more about the vanguards experiences.