An update on our provider collaboration reviews

Dr Rosie Benneyworth discusses the findings from the most recent provider collaboration reviews focused on urgent and emergency care and cancer. She also talks about what’s next for the programme and how any learning will feed into our new strategy.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth

Our programme of provider collaboration reviews (PCRs) is aiming to show the best of innovation across systems under pressure, and to drive system, regional and national learning and improvement. Each review has taken place at a different stage of the pandemic. We have remained aware of the pressures on systems throughout, reviewing and adapting our approach to minimise the impact of each review.

I want to update on findings from the most recent phases focused on urgent and emergency care and cancer services. And share what’s coming next in the programme.

We recently published the full findings of our PCR or urgent and emergency care in England. This followed a report sharing learning examples from the areas that we covered.

We wanted to know whether people had been able to access the right care, at the right time, and in the right place during the pandemic. We looked at how collaboration across local areas had made a difference to this. The learning from the review fell into five themes:

  1. Ensuring access
  2. Tackling inequalities
  3. Governance and shared planning
  4. Safety and staff skills
  5. Use of technology

This report comes at a time when local systems are starting to develop recovery plans. We hope it can help them consider how to embed the best of the innovations developed in response to the pandemic. It is imperative that planning for this winter starts now to ensure the hard-learnt lessons of the pandemic are not lost.

Our PCR identified key challenges for systems as we look forward to next winter and beyond:

  • Develop and build on relationships. Provider and system leaders must collaborate and work together to meet the needs of their local populations. Our work shows that it is crucial to establish good and meaningful relationships across local areas and systems.
  • Share important information. Lasting solutions for information sharing will enable urgent and emergency care services to help people most in need of care.
  • Understand staffing. Workforce strategies should cover a local system or area, not just localised services. This will help ensure the right numbers of people and skills.
  • Understand inequality. Leaders need to work hard to understand the inequalities that exist in their areas. They should further develop strategies to address them.
  • Embrace technology. Rapid advancement of new ways of working have presented an opportunity to improve people’s access to care and their experience.

We hope these findings will be useful to system leaders and providers as they work together to plan for the coming winter.

We have published some examples of the innovation and positive ways in which services in local areas have worked to ensure continued care for people with cancer, or suspected cancer. We are sharing these examples early to support learning and recovery across cancer provision efforts national. A full report will follow in July.

The learning examples cover topics including:

  • Engaging with local communities. We heard how community engagement was prioritised in response to people’s concerns about contracting COVID-19 whilst seeking medical advice. Social media and online chats were used to tell people that primary care services remained active during the pandemic and they should still attend screening appointments.
  • Innovation and collaboration in the community. Services and systems have worked hard to maintain personalised care — particularly in community settings. New ways of working helped to ensure protection for immunosuppressed people from the COVID-19 virus. This included home chemotherapy and increased digital working.
  • Recovery. We asked services about how systems are managing backlogs in performing diagnostic procedures and surgery, and how they plan to recover their services. We heard of innovative techniques in endoscopy services and how local systems and cancer alliances used extra funding to increase booking teams and lists on weekends.

These examples are based on the conversations we had with system leaders, individual services and staff, as well as the voluntary sector that provides significant support in people’s cancer care. The full findings will reflect further on people’s experience of these services during the pandemic.

We have recently completed fieldwork for the PCR of services for people who live with a learning disability in the community. As with the other phases, we will report headline findings through our Insight report, followed by full findings in a national report.

The final phase will look at mental health services for children and young people. The fieldwork for this will take place during June and July.

The PCRs have been valuable in shining a light on some of the innovation and collaboration that has taken place in response to the pandemic. We have also been able to highlight some of the common barriers and challenges faced across systems.

We developed and undertook the PCRs at pace. We have adapted as we go, and we have tried to remain flexible in the face of the ever-changing challenges presented by the pandemic. As well as the learning we have shared for systems and providers, there has also been some very important learning for us at CQC. We will carry out detailed evaluation of the programme to inform our future ways of working as we develop our approach to systems in line with our new strategy.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.