Improving patient care and service efficiencies through partnership working, NHS Commissioning Conference 27 June 2012
Managing Long Term Conditions Stream

London 27 June 2012: Nearly 90% of NHS commissioning influencers with experience of an NHS/ industry joint working or partnership project would consider doing it again to improve patient care, according to new evidence presented today at the first day of the NHS Commissioning Conference. Furthermore, over 80% reported that they saw it as a means to achieve cost efficiencies or redesign clinical services in a priority area.  
PM Society NHS Partnerships Interest Group lead Ivor Eisenstadt, who is also a director of MGP Ltd , which carried out the research among 670 users, presented the data to drive discussion at the 'Improving patient care and service efficiencies through partnership working' session of the Commissioning 2012 conference. He was joined by a panel that included GP commissioners with experience in partnership working.
The survey was designed to identify the key drivers for partnership and joint working projects between the NHS and industry. 60% of respondents reported that they already had experience in  partnership or joint working with 96% saying this had been successful. Respiratory, diabetes and elderly care were the most frequently stated areas for partnerships, ENT and gastrointestinal the least common. Respondents included GPs (54%), nurses (12%), hospital doctors (11%), pharmacists and prescribing advisors (11%). 
When asked why they had entered into partnerships respondent's top answers were improving patient care (99%) and making cost and service efficiencies (over 80%). A large proportion also said to meet NHS targets or to implement guidelines. However, when questioned on whether certain objectives could be met by partnership working, expectations among those who had no experience of such initiatives were much lower. Barriers to involvement were cited as lack of time or experience, hinting at low confidence, suggested Eisenstadt.
Eisenstadt was joined by Dr James Kingsland OBE, GP, National Clinical Commissioning Network Lead and President of the National Association of Primary Care; Dr Joe McGilligan, GP, Chairman of ESyDoc CCG and Co-chair of the Shadow Surrey Health and Wellbeing Board; and Paul Midgley, Director of NHS Insight, Principia Rushcliffe CCG, patient member on the CHD Task & Finish Group and patient participation group Chair.  
Speaking 'as a GP', Dr Kingsland cited speed of innovation, ability to invest and resources as a reason to work with industry, underlining that the NHS should identify areas of need first and then seek appropriate partners to effect change. "Over the past years, we have more and more reasons to work in partnerships. It is a working relationship that we should be promoting, developing and increasing," he commented. 
Dr Joe McGilligan highlighted the 'can-do' attitude of the pharmaceutical industry as a way of getting things done quickly. He cited successful examples within his area of partnerships in COPD, asthma, CHD and even psoriasis. 
"My mantra is I don't want any patient in the ESyDoc area to have a different experience," he explained. "Everyone should have the same access to the same healthcare and we should be using every tool in the box, not excluding any."
Paul Midgley, who also sits on the PM Society NHS Partnerships Interest Group, and has industry and NHS commissioning experience, described how his area has a culture of partnership that extends beyond industry. "Patients are the most important partner," he observed. "However, over the past five years we have found that industry is a sensible, worthwhile and trustworthy partner." 
Key learning points from the survey were that clear goals should be established at the outset, planning and preparation is essential, and resources need to be in place before starting a project.
The survey also flagged the importance of involving all stakeholders, including secondary care, and gaining the backing of those working at all levels within the participating organisations.
"The question is, are you working on the right project, is it going to make a difference in your local health economy and is it going to help you financially? There is no point doing fancy projects that don't deliver QIPP," Midgley commented.
Eisenstadt concluded: "the culture is critical, getting the right people, the right champions and focusing on defined and measurable outcomes."
The MGP partnership working survey can be found at:
Media information please contact:
Carys Thomas Ampofo 
Tel: 07973 821113
1The survey was carried out by MGP Ltd, a specialist healthcare publisher that works to improve patients' lives by promoting best practice in healthcare.