For Clinical Leaders, a Focus on Collaboration and Integration

Lumeon was delighted to attend the NHS Clinical Leaders Network (CLN) National Congress Conference 2019, which was held in Manchester on 23rd January. Lumeon supported the CLN in addressing the challenges of sustaining change in light of some major infrastructure shifts that have occurred over the last five years.

These shifts include changes to integration and reorganisation of services, regulatory re-adjustments, and advances in the application of technology. Regional Sustainability Partnerships (STPs) have emerged, charged with creating local Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs). Meanwhile, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have replaced Primary Care Trusts, and NHS England and NHS Improvement structures have integrated nationally.

The multi-professional group of senior clinicians and leaders who gathered at the conference were instrumental in shaping the new NHS long term plan and will be charged with implementing it. From the wide-ranging discussions that took place there, we gleaned some key takeaways.

  • Take collaboration seriously. Working partnerships are critical for sustainability change across the UK healthcare landscape. This is true on are many levels, from the clinical to the structural. For example, it’s essential to understand how Local Authorities and NHS work together, which varies by region.

    “We have to re-imagine how we work together today,” said panelist Jonty Heaversedge, NHS Southwark CCG chair and medical director for primary care and digital transformation at NHS England. “Clinical Leaders need to lead, drive, and motivate new ways of working. It requires time and resource investment in people as well as technology.”

  • Be more patient-centric. The system will only sustain improvement if everyone focuses on patient needs. Even the Care Quality Commission now recognises the importance of monitoring and reviewing how patients move through the system of care. Efforts at restructuring, such as merging CCGs, should prioritise better patient care, not just efficiencies.

    “The voice of the patient cannot be heard if clinical leaders are not engaged,” said panelist Dr. JS Bamrah, a consultant psychiatrist at North Manchester general hospital and honorary reader at the University of Manchester. 

  • Prioritise integrated models of care. The conference included much discussion of this topic, which is where the previous two takeaways join together with technological advancement to create entirely new avenues and methods for clinical engagement. These care models require total integration of all elements of a patient’s care journey — a challenge within the NHS system and one that requires active engagement by all stakeholders.

    “Integrated working is not sharing a loo on the third floor…We’ve got to build the new ‘clinical place’ and nurture clinical leadership,” said David Sweeney, executive implementation lead at Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership.

It is not only essential for clinicians to come together to discuss and plan how to implement the NHS’s priorities, as they did at the 2019 CLN conference. It’s also important that all of those who are party to such conversations celebrate successes and share their progress. Speaking out about the benefits of collaborative, patient-centric approaches that can sustain positive change in healthcare will help the NHS better see how integrated care models bolstered by the right technology are increasingly essential.

“The NHS are still thinking too small a scale and with ideas 20 years behind current state of the art,” says Stephen Hawkins, Lumeon’s director of solution architecture. “They cannot understand that spending on good IT solutions will save them a lot of money, time, and resources, and increase their budget.”

The clinical leaders who gathered together this month are focused on changing that to help bring the NHS into the modern, integrated world of medicine as seamlessly as possible.