Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), and Barts Health NHS Trust, have jointly published a document on their efforts to work closer together, as well as outlining their ambitions to build a greater working partnership in North East London.
Recently, it was announced that Jacqui Smith will take on the role of Chair in Common, working across both organisations. The closer working model is being used across hospitals in the North East London area, including Mile End Hospital, Whipps Cross Hospital, King George Hospital, Queen’s Hospital, and Barking Community Hospital.
The report highlights case studies that show how closer collaboration can affect positive change in the North East London area. The pronounced population growth across the region, which both organisations cover, has accelerated the need for greater collaboration – and a shared vision to improve patient care. This factor, in combination with COVID-19, put specific pressure on hospitals, as the need for critical care beds in the area was double the amount available.
The first example of greater collaboration between the two trusts was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trusts communicated twice daily during peaks of the virus and were able to manage critical care beds in an efficient and safe way, for patients.
Charlotte Hopkins, Group Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Barts Health, said: “I had telephone conversations with colleagues in Homerton and at BHRUT [who] I had never met before. They joined our daily conference call within Barts Health – MS Teams didn’t exist then – and we rotated the chair between us. It was all about sharing information and ensuring voices were heard, but the outcome was that a group of clinicians controlled patient flow and managed mutual aid across multiple critical care units.
“Together we ensured an unprecedented number of patients with severe respiratory disease got the immediate treatment they needed.”
Over 100 interviews were conducted with members of staff, to find out how well-received close collaboration would be, with 1,550 responses recorded. Staff highlighted the need to encourage the freedom of movement across hospitals to develop staff and provide a broader experience but, to achieve this, a large scale project would be needed to upgrade back-office systems at both organisations.
The report sets out the next steps for both organisations, which will include the production of a shared approach to target 12 specific priority areas. Matthew Trainer has been appointed as the new substantive CEO for BHRUT, and one of his main responsibilities is to stabilise the senior leadership team, with a number of executive appointments expected in the coming months.