South Tyneside’s NHS praised in national study
Thu 20th February 20200
South Tyneside’s NHS is in the national spotlight, as the area was praised in a high-profile study by the influential think tank, the King’s Fund.
Focusing on three areas of the country, the study highlights local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which are doing things differently, so that other areas can learn from their successes.
South Tyneside’s CCG, which plans and buys most healthcare services in the borough, has pioneered a new approach in the past four years, in partnership with the highly regarded health system in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Dr David Hambleton, the CCG’s Chief Officer, said: “Our area faces a number of health challenges, and we are determined to provide the best possible care and support for our communities and improve their outcomes.
“We try to cut out bureaucracy as much we can, by trusting our staff and our partners to make decisions for people knowing that we will support them – and avoiding the delays that happen when senior leaders want to approve every detail.
“We have always worked with a range of people locally, like GP practices, the council and the hospital trust. The difference now is that we’re trying hard to act as one team, and we make decisions together. That’s what we call ‘the South Tyneside way’.”
The report – ‘Thinking differently about commissioning’ – points out that while national policy encourages health and care organisations to work more closely together, there is no national blueprint for how to do it. With that in mind, South Tyneside’s achievements are likely to be studied by NHS leaders across the country who are keen to find new ways of working.
The report highlights a number of examples where ‘the South Tyneside way’ has helped the local health and care system to work better.
In one example, the CCG replaced a set of small individual payments made to GP practices with one simple payment. Instead of wasting time managing several separate small pots of money, practices now carry out one piece of work per year to improve the quality of services to patients – and then share what they have learned with other practices locally.
The King’s Fund highlights another example, when the CCG was unexpectedly awarded an extra £2 million in funding from national bodies. Rather than just decide how to spend the money in isolation, it chose to trust health and social care colleagues by inviting ideas around themes like mental health, end of life care and frailty services.
The result was a series of new ideas to support people with cancer, substance misuse and people with learning disabilities and autism.
Dr Hambleton added: “We have learned a huge amount from our link-up with New Zealand, and this is making a very real difference in helping us achieve more with the funding we have. There is always more to do, both in providing the best possible services and helping people to improve their own health, but it’s great to have this national recognition.”