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Taking the lead through hospital chains

Source: NHE Sept/Oct 2016

Claire Riley, director of communications and corporate affairs at Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT, explains how the trust aims to spearhead improved healthcare to by taking a lead on hospital chains.

In August, we were one of only four organisations (see box out) across the country chosen by NHS Improvement to help drive innovation and improvement across the NHS.

Together we will spearhead new ways of working, share expertise and best practice to help improve quality and efficiency throughout the NHS for the wider benefit of patient care. 

Here at Northumbria Healthcare we have set up Northumbria Foundation Group (NFG) to help us share our knowledge, expertise and support to other NHS organisations across the country. 

We’re delighted to be one of the national leaders of this work and our vision for NFG is very simple – it is about sharing our experiences and the knowledge we have gained over many years, to collaborate with other organisations for the greater good of the NHS as a whole. 

Through NFG, a range of clinical and corporate support services will be available to other parts of the NHS, using proven best practice models to improve productivity and clinical effectiveness, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care, experience and quality of services. 

Our approach is very flexible and we work closely with our NHS partners to build relationships and really understand the nature of local challenges so that we can tailor the right package of support. 

Whether it is short-term consultancy support to help manage change or specific projects, outsourcing back-office functions, or long-term direct input at a strategic level, we have the right people to help support NHS organisations. 

Over the years we have developed an extensive portfolio of commercial services such as our staff benefit schemes, fleet solutions and home electronic solutions which will be on offer across the NHS through NFG. An important factor in providing these staff benefit schemes is that all savings generated remain within the NHS.

We also provide GPs with professional support in many of the corporate business functions that come with running a GP practice through our wholly-owned subsidiary Northumbria Primary Care. A range of services are available, allowing GPs to spend more time caring for patients whilst having the support of a large organisation and the economies of scale this offers. 

Additionally, we have sought to achieve financial efficiencies by forming consortiums, working collaboratively, to deliver services such as payroll and pensions advice, finance and procurement using Oracle technology with the ability to take other value-added services – budgeting, forecasting and business intelligence. 

And our offer is not just restricted to corporate services as we are keen to share our vast clinical expertise to improve patient care. For example we’re currently leading a clinically-led project, in partnership with the Health Foundation, to raise awareness of sepsis and the importance of early treatment which has been a major focus for our trust for the last two years with truly amazing results. By urging our clinical staff working across hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside to ‘think infection, spot sepsis’ we have saved an extra 158 lives – over six lives every month – for the past two years. We are now working with the Health Foundation to make sure we share the Northumbria successes not just with our partners locally, but right across the wider NHS.  

By linking NHS organisations together, working collaboratively, we will all help to drive innovation and improvement across the NHS. This will involve sharing expertise, best practice and experience which will ultimately improve quality and efficiency so that we have a sustainable NHS going forward. 

This is pioneering work for the NHS as a whole against a backdrop of local as well as national challenges in an economic climate that impacts on communities in a variety of ways. We are very keen to play a part in embracing the challenges facing us all and to understand how best to achieve these common goals. We look forward to NFG being at the forefront of this work and continuing to be at the leading-edge of innovation in the NHS.  

The four accredited trusts are:

  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
  • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust



Tw: @NorthumbriaFG



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