Provider collaboration reviews: sharing learning and supporting improvement

In her latest blog, Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care, updates on our programme of provider collaboration reviews.

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Dr Rosie Benneyworth

System working is nothing new for health and social care: the landscape has been evolving for some time. We’ve already seen new ways of working in partnership across different sectors, and the benefits this brings for the local population, individual people, and providers.

Before the pandemic, we knew that different parts of the country were at different stages in progress towards better collaborative working between health and care services.

Throughout the pandemic we have seen providers rapidly adapt to the new challenges they are facing, often working together in different ways to make sure people are getting the care they need quickly and safely.

However, the crisis has also exposed the inequalities that exist in our society, including those in health and care.

It was with this in mind that we set out to complete a series of provider collaboration reviews (PCRs). The aim of these rapid reviews is to support providers of health and social care services by sharing learning and helping to drive improvements. We hope they will also help health and care systems prepare for ongoing and future pressures, including a particularly challenging winter and further peaks of coronavirus.

The first phase of the PCRs focused on the interface between health and adult social care for the over-65 population group. We found that people in health and social care worked above and beyond, with a shared drive to look after people well and keep them safe. There was variation in the success of collaboration between providers, which was often affected by the maturity of pre-existing relationships within the system and whether there was well planned governance, clear decision-making arrangements and escalation plans. The full findings were published in this year’s State of Care report, where we also shared examples of good practice which we hope others can learn from.

The second phase of the reviews is looking at how providers are working together to deliver urgent and emergency care services in light of coronavirus. We are currently analysing the findings and will publish a headline summary in December ahead of a national report in January 2021.

Three further phases will look at the experiences of:

  1. People who have used and are using cancer care services and pathways
  2. People with a learning disability
  3. People with a mental health condition

We will also undertake a deep dive into health inequalities, with a focus on different ethnic groups. When we consider people with a learning disability, our primary focus will be learning disabilities, but we will include experiences for people presenting with both learning disability and autism. We are conscious that providers are working under pressure, especially as we head into winter, and are mindful of this as we are planning the PCRs.

When carrying out the reviews, all activity is virtual. Fieldwork consists of interviews and focus groups with a range of providers from different sectors as well as representatives of people who use services.

The PCRs are running as a rolling programme, with preparation for the review of people who have used and are using cancer care services and pathways underway. For each review we will share headline themes and trends through our regular COVID-19 Insight reports, followed by a national report with detailed findings shortly after.

While the PCRs focus on what’s happening in systems through the lens of the pandemic, we know we also need to look further ahead.

We will be holding a formal consultation on our future strategy in January 2021, and we have already set out our ambitions in a draft document and talked at length about the themes through webinars and podcasts.

We acknowledge that as a regulator we need to adapt and work in new ways. It’s now not enough to just look at how one service operates in isolation. For us, this means our assessment of people’s care must look at every touch point of a person’s journey through the health and care system: looking at individual services and across different providers, organisations, and systems.

Our strategy is built on four central and interdependent themes:

  • People and communities
  • Smarter regulation
  • Safety through learning
  • Accelerating improvement

Systems is the thread running through these themes. Our ambition is to improve people’s care by looking at health and care systems and how they’re working together to reduce inequalities.

You can find out more about our strategy on our digital participation platform. Look out for details on how to get involved in the formal consultation through our provider bulletins.

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

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