6 October 2014

Integrated Thinking for Integrated Care – NHS Alliance and Foundation Trust Network Form New Collaboration

Two leading representative bodies for organisations providing services to the NHS across both primary and secondary care, have formed a strategic partnership with a vision to explore and break down some of the historic silos and tensions that continue to hinder innovation in the health service.

The NHS Alliance and the Foundation Trust Network (FTN), representing primary and secondary healthcare respectively, have committed to partnership working and are:

  • bringing together senior leaders from primary care and secondary care to discuss difficult challenges and identify shared solutions;
  • facilitating the sharing of good practice particularly showcasing case studies where primary and secondary care colleagues are working closely together to improve communication between professionals, and streamline pathways for patients;
  • publishing an initial short series of papers to capture the findings of six months’ collaborative working.

Rick Stern, chief executive of the NHS Alliance said: “Some of the most critical issues facing the future of the healthcare system involve the ability of different parts of the system to work together. Central to the fragmentation of care is the divide between primary care and the hospital. A strategic partnership between NHS Alliance and the Foundation Trust Network is an attempt to look anew at the things that have kept us apart and offer some fresh perspectives on the potential for working together and deliver better patient care across our communities. Primary care and secondary care have seen each other as competitors for a diminishing NHS budget, protecting vested professional and organisational interests, rather than working towards common goals for patients.  We want to challenge this thinking.

“Getting this right will provide patients with a more seamless and effective health service, and protect the values which the NHS stands by. It will allow a focus on preventative measures, ensuring those requiring acute or specialist care are swiftly referred for the right treatment, providing the best possible care and support to those with long term conditions and empowering people to manage their own care where appropriate.”

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network said: “We know that NHS providers are committed to delivering co-ordinated care which is better for patients and ensures care is delivered at the right time in the right setting – whether that be in a GP surgery, within the home, a community based setting, or within a hospital. However lots of the existing system rules and regulations, including current payment and performance measures, continue to enforce institutional working. NHS providers across the country are already working with partners in their local health economies to drive change despite these challenges. We know that the scale of the transformation required means that it won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial that align national frameworks behind integration and allow localities to work together in the best interests of their patients to deliver more co-ordinated care.

“The NHS Alliance and Foundation Trust Network, represent NHS providers of primary and secondary healthcare respectively.  We believe we share key common values that can help progress the integration and co-ordination of care in the patient’s interest.”

The NHS Alliance and Foundation Trust Network have identified their common values:

  • Patients must play a central role in managing their own conditions, and taking decisions about their care, as well as in contributing to shaping the local health care reform to ensure that services cater for their requirements and be enabled to do so. We should, if required, reconfigure our services to ensure this happens.
  • Success should be measured by the outcomes achieved for the patient.
  • There should be a shared focus within the local health economy on how to achieve the best outcomes and value for the population.
  • Local health economies need to be given the independence and autonomy to address find local solutions without being constrained unduly by national frameworks and regulation.
  • Primary care and secondary care facilities across the acute, mental health, community and ambulance sectors are assets within the local health economy.  There is much to be gained from ensuring patients receive the right care in the most appropriate setting in order to maximise the use of healthcare facilities for the purpose they are best suited.  This may mean delivering more care in the community in some localities, and forging closer links between primary and secondary care.

The first NHS Alliance / FTN paper will be published in mid November.



About NHS Alliance

The NHS Alliance is the leading voice for providers of health and social care outside hospital, bringing together general practice, community pharmacy and providers of housing and emergency services.

NHS Alliance has the ear of Government and policy makers and helps its members by actively shaping and driving new agendas and policies that affect patient care outside hospital. It aims to drive a new integrated and collaborative model of care for an ageing population living with long term conditions and is focused on breaking down the historic boundaries and silos that get in the way of truly progressive and innovative patient care.

The NHS Alliance represents more than 9,000 clinicians and managers working across primary care.

About FTN

The Foundation Trust Network (FTN) is the membership organisation and trade association for the NHS acute hospitals and community, mental health and ambulance services that treat patients and service users in the NHS. The FTN helps those NHS trusts deliver high quality, patient focused, care by enabling them to learn from each other, acting as their public voice and helping shape the system in which they operate.

The FTN has over 225 members – more than 90% of all NHS foundation trusts and aspirant trusts – who collectively account for £65 billion of annual expenditure and employ more than 630,000 staff.

Initial findings and next steps

Our first collaborative working session in July which brought together leaders from general practice, acute, community and mental health settings and housing, identified the shared values that unite the NHS Alliance and Foundation Trust Network, as well as some of the system rules and regulations that can be divisive. It highlighted good practice from around the country where organisations and clinicians are bridging the gap between primary and secondary care.

Our next steps will explore what optimally integrated health community might look like in 10-20 years time, what shared outcomes measures might be and how the system and regulatory frameworks could facilitate collaboration, and how localities could take steps towards an integrated health community in the more immediate future.  The first NHS Alliance / FTN paper will be published in mid November.