Working Together Partnership Vanguard

Working Together is an innovative partnership between seven hospital Trusts in the region. The partnership was formed in 2013 and became a Vanguard in 2015. The programme has a small Programme Management Office staffed by people from the Trusts it serves, who lead on a number of projects within each of the four workstreams around which the programme is structured.

The objectives of the Working Together Parrtnership Vanguard are to work together and strengthen each of the seven Hospital Trusts by sharing collective expertise and knowledge to:

  • Improve quality, safety and the patient experience
  • Deliver safe and sustainable new models of care
  • Make collective efficiencies where the potential exists

How will we achieve this?

Some of the ways in which we can achieve the aims are to make changes and improvements collectively which result in:

  • Where appropriate, Clinical Services networked – all working together – in order to support long term sustainability
  • Reductions in people receiving different levels of care, by making sure all Trusts are working to the same operating procedures and clinical pathways
  • New ways of working to support recruitment and retention of staff, particularly in specialties
  • Radiology and pathology reporting systems that will maximise capacity and speed decision making
  • A digital strategy to connect organisations so that we can securely share patient information that will improve safety, quality and the patient experience
  • New operating models that support the spread of best practice and increase cost efficiencies.

Participating Trusts

The Trusts participating in the programme are:

These seven Trusts have chosen to work together because of proximity to each other and the likelihood that patients will travel across sub-regional boundaries to the closest Trust from which they can receive the care that they require (with high numbers of patients travelling between North Barnsley and the Mid Yorks Trusts, and between South Sheffield and Chesterfield).

Together the  Trusts cover 15 Hospital sites with approximately 45,000 staff, covering a population of approx 2.3million.

Acute Care Federation

Every month the Chief Executives of all seven of the Working Together Hospital Trusts come together to provide Strategic Leadership and oversight of the delivery of the programme. The Federation particularly focuses on:

  • Improving patient outcomes through sharing best practice, expertise and workforce
  • Achieving financial stability through better use of existing resources
  • Creating sustainable services through improving resilience and working with the STP Collaborative Partnership Board  to reconfigure services

The have agreed on a decision making approach that doesn’t let one trust dominate, whereby they seek unanimous support of the Trusts for which the matter is relevant, if areas of dispute arise collective decision making applies as long as >75% of eligible constituency agrees. If support is <75% the proposal is  reassessed.

The Board Chairs from each of the seven Trusts also meet monthly following the Acute Care Federation meetings.

Guiding Principles

The Chairs and Chief Executives of the seven Trusts have agreed the following principles which guide the partnership:

  • Through our partnership and collaboration with each other we aspire, for the benefit of our patients, to be one of the most innovative, safe, caring, responsive, effective, well led and efficient health and care systems by 2020.
  • We will remain as seven separate Trusts with our own accountabilities and responsibilities. We have no intention to pursue mergers or acquisitions.
  • Our starting point for everything we do will be, can this be done better, safer, more economically for our patients if we work with our partners in a different way?
  • We will move at pace in examining all our activities on a “bottom up” basis, across the partnership, engaging our clinical and non-clinical teams to adopt innovative approaches and best practice.
  • We will challenge ourselves and embrace change where it benefits our patients or the health care system as a whole. Status quo is not an option if we are to do the right thing for our patients on
  • a sustainable basis.
  • We will establish a governance model which facilitates this approach. Structure will not be a barrier to innovative change while recognising the statutory responsibilities of all seven individual Trust Board of Directors.
  • Models of cost/benefit equalisation will be a key ingredient of the partnership activity to ensure financial loss or gain for any individual Trust is not a barrier to beneficial system change/progress.
  • We will seek support from Commissioners to ensure changes are achieved at pace in order to gain maximum benefits for patients and system stability.

What has Working Together achieved so far?

The Working Together Partnership has had success in a number of projects that have already delivered important benefits for patients, frontline clinicians and also enabled us to make better use of the resources we have. Read more about our success in latest news or in our newsletters, a few examples include:

  • The introduction of a shared IT system called ICE OpenNet across the seven Trusts means test results are now able to be accessed securly by clinicians in any of the 7 Trusts regardless of which hospital undertook the original test. This has reduced the need for costly duplicate tests and speeded up treatment decisions for patients.
  • Clinicians have come together to explore how best to provide out of hours cover for some very specialist services where there are limited specialists available.
  • Clinical and non Clinical staff across any of the 7 Trusts can now have access to each of the organisations wi-fi networks so that they can securely access relevant information even if they are not at their usual hospital base. This prevents delays and ensures clinicians have the information they need regardless of which Hospital location they are in.
  • Almost a million pounds has been saved by combining the joint buying power of the seven Trusts to get better prices on certain items like examination gloves and some syringes.

Further Information