Leadership in neurology: sharing good practice

May 15th 2015 ...in category Healthcare News

Rather than the simplistically grim picture of the NHS that many have painted in the run up to the election, the reality is more complex.

The NHS is a huge and heterogeneous organisation in which variation in services is probably one of its most problematic characteristics, leading to the so called postcode lottery.

Some clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are getting it right, while others have a way to go before they can deliver the kind of cost effective services and good patient experiences they are after.

This couldn’t be truer of neurology. Recent figures published by the Neurological Alliance show that most CCGs aren’t adequately assessing neurology needs in their area in order to deliver well thought-out care. And HES data shows time and again that this poor planning leads to unnecessary emergency admissions largely for avoidable problems like falls and infections.

Yet many CCGs are getting services right. By exploring data and speaking to patients they have designed services that invest in proactive, preventative care that focuses on patient self-management. In the long run this keeps neurology patients out of hospital and saves money to boot.

Each CCG is different and needs to design its own services to meet its unique local needs. But many aspects of good service delivery are universal, and so it makes sense that successful NHS trusts should buddy up with those in difficulty.

As David Dalton, Chief executive at Salford Royal NHS foundation trust, told the Guardian: “High performing organisations should be given the opportunity for their achievements to be adopted and spread elsewhere”. He’s right: sharing models of good practice is key.

Dalton explains that many European health systems have “a relentless drive for high reliability, to minimise operational variability”. This is what we should be striving for in the NHS – but to make it happen organisations must collaborate.

If CCGs that are getting it right were paired up with CCGs that are struggling, they could benefit from support and improvement. This would be a great opportunity for high performing CCGs’ successes to be adopted and spread elsewhere, perhaps on a regional level.

However, to implement this across the board in order to see the highest possible quality of neurological care delivered equitably for patients across the country, a truly networked approach to care delivery is needed. This would mean a much more co-ordinated approach to neurology care delivery nationally, and would help to deliver greater efficiencies, and most importantly, better patient outcomes.

Networked care can ensure faster diagnosis, with patients then receiving treatment as close to their homes as possible, alongside specialist oversight of neurological treatment regimes.

However, networked care is a big project, but needn’t be overwhelming if we start the ball rolling with projects that share models of good practice between CCGs. This highlights the value of commissioning support, which has an important role to play in hosting idea sharing events, as well as the basics in investigating data, identifying specific problem areas, and facilitating service redesign. All of these exercises are key to getting services right.

There’s a way to go, but a number of CCGs show that it is possible – it’s just a case of sharing their successes and tapping into the commissioning support that’s available.

About the Author

Sue Thomas

Sue Thomas

Chief Executive for Commissioning Excellence

View more posts by Sue Thomas

May 15th 2015
...in category Healthcare News

Commissioning Excellence

As one of NHS England’s recognised niche specialist commissioning support providers, we offer a full range services to assist you in improving patient outcomes. Our experience covers all long term conditions, with a particular specialism in the field of neurology.

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