270 community health staff in Tower Hamlets transferred to ELFT on Saturday 1 April as part of new contract arrangements for health services in the borough. Chief Executive Dr Navina Evans, Chair, Marie Gabriel, and Commercial Development and Performance Director, Mohit Venkataram, visited Jubilee Ward at Mile End Hospital, and met with staff from three out of the four community health teams to say hello and see how their first day with ELFT was going.
It was business as usual for the teams and for their patients. All services will remain in their current locations, and phone numbers and referral pathways will continue as they were.
The transfer is part of a new approach to community health care in Tower Hamlets and is part of a ground-breaking alliance partnership agreement between Tower Hamlets GP Care Group Community Interest Company (IC), Barts Health NHS Trust and ELFT, called Tower Hamlets Together.
The partnership will enable local GPs to work much more closely with hospital and community trusts to offer more joined up health services in the borough and reduce duplication. The partnership is seen as a unique opportunity to transform community health services.
ELFT already provides community health services in Newham so the new teams will be part of a strengthened community health presence in the Trust and have a stronger voice. It brings the opportunity to share knowledge and consider innovative approaches to support people and keep them out of hospital, or if unavoidable, to enable them to return home as soon as they are medically stable.
Chief Executive, Dr Navina Evans, is excited about the possibilities which lie ahead, " We welcome the community teams who are joining us and look forward to sharing skills and expertise. We will be able to learn from each other and spread best practice to service users and their families.
We really enjoyed meeting the teams today. And the big conversations have already started. There is a sense of excitement in the air."
Key developments will include a new single point of access that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, better integration of adult and children services, and a single patient record.
NEW APPROACH RESPONDS TO LOCAL NEED
By adopting the alliance model, the CCG and the three providers are looking to build on the strong working relationships they have developed as part of the Tower Hamlets Together vanguard.
Simon Hall, Acting Chief Officer of Tower Hamlets CCG, said taking this approach would support true partnership working and integration of care, bringing long-term benefits for local people: “Back in 2014 people in Tower Hamlets told us that community health services needed to improve. They wanted high quality health care close to home when they needed it, but many of the existing services were inconsistent.
The new model has been designed to meet the needs of individual patients and benefit the wellbeing of the Tower Hamlets population and the local health system. As local GP practices will be working in close partnership with providers, we will also be able to reduce duplication and deliver effective services that will really make a difference for our patients.
I want to thank the Tower Hamlets community for its support. We couldn’t have reached this point without the help of the patient leaders, voluntary organisations and other local groups that were involved in the commissioning process.
I’d also like to reassure patients that they will continue to be able to access community services throughout this transition period.”
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PIPELINE
The partnership approach will improve children’s and adult services by:
- Improving accessibility to provide more people with safe and compassionate care at home or in their local community
- Transforming community health services in a way that would not be possible in a single organisation. For example, implementing new models of care that support early discharge from hospital – providing person-centred care at the right place, at the right time based on the needs of the local Tower Hamlets population
- Helping local people to achieve better health outcomes being supported by a truly multi-skilled team.
The new alliance arrangement will also aim to:
- Reduce health inequalities – ensuring that people in Tower Hamlets lead more healthy and fulfilling lives through a longer and healthier life expectancy
- Provide effective signposting of services and pathways – so people understand how and when to access the most appropriate care and avoid unnecessary delays
- Promote self-management – ensuring patients are provided with the knowledge and guidance they require to look after themselves where appropriate
- Encourage innovation – in the design of services and the use of technology, including implementation of a ‘paperless’ system by April 2018
The value of the five-year deal is £185million.