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The Acute Co-Production Partnership

In October 2016, ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026 - Delivering Together’ outlined the Department of Health’s full commitment to adopting a co-production approach to achieve the necessary changes required to deliver the world class health and social care services people deserve. In this week’s blog Acute Involvement Coordinator Ashley Steele tells us what the Northern HSC Trust is doing to realise this vision.

Co-production is the latest buzzword in Health and Social Care at the moment.  You’ve probably heard it being mentioned a lot recently – but what does it really mean?  Depending on who you speak to you might get slightly different definitions, but in its purest form co-production is about health and social care services working hand-in-hand with patients, service users, carers and communities to share power in the decision making process.  Well carried out co-production results in more efficient, innovative and cost effective services and improves people’s experience of care.

I work as the Involvement Coordinator for the acute divisions within the Northern Trust.  The two acute divisions cover medicine and surgery services, as well as their supporting services.

My commitment to involving people is deeply rooted in the belief that connecting and empowering people delivers meaningful change through peoples combined strengths, knowledge and expertise.  As my husband would say – “We may not have it all together but together we have it all!”

Traditionally, patient and public involvement within the hospital setting has been limited.  In part, this is due to the nature of the services, however it is my role to ensure that people can be involved in ways that are meaningful and rewarding for them.  In the past we have relied on more traditional means of hearing views, such as patient satisfaction surveys, compliments and complaints.  This is good work, however, this falls short of co-production.

Personal and Public Involvement does not come with a guide book – there is no ‘set’ process and no-one can say they have the ideal method for carrying it out.  Whatever we decide to do, I know that we need to do it together.

I established our Northern Trust Acute Co-production Partnership in September 2017 with a view to working closer with patients, service users, carers and local community and voluntary groups to jointly develop and improve the services we provide.  Working with the partnership has been so beneficial - I have become more aware of the challenges faced by service users and carers; I have also become aware of the various community and voluntary groups and some of the great work that these organisations are doing.

Oftentimes there can be a mismatch between what staff think and what service users/carers want. There is a strong need for open communication and opportunities for service users/carers to talk and for staff to listen.  This is one of the best benefits of our Acute Co-production Partnership.

The three key things that have really helped our partnership flourish are:

  • The genuine support of Senior Management – There is no point in working with people to improve services if there isn’t the buy-in from our senior leaders to implement change. Our Divisional Directors for Medicine and Surgery were delighted to be able to invite service users to our Divisional Planning days and feedback from the service users indicated they felt listened to and were treated as equals.
  • The willingness of staff to incorporate personal and public involvement into their everyday work.
  • The constructive people that make up our Partnership who are empowered to challenge, to ask questions and to make suggestions on how to make our Personal and Public Involvement activities more effective.

The Government has made it clear that Health and Social Care providers need to stop delivering the services that they want to deliver and start delivering the services that people want.  This can be challenging for us as we, with our learned experience, think we know best.  We need you with your lived experience to tell us what you know to make sure that our services best meet your needs.  I know that people want to be involved in different ways and I will always do my best to match service users/carers with involvement opportunities which are meaningful for them.

If you use services in the Northern Trust area then we’d love to hear from you – perhaps consider completing our survey and share your contact details and interests with us!  If you can see a problem, even if you have a solution, you can’t fix it from the outside.  Come join us and work with the partnership to improve services for everyone that uses them.

What do you think could be done to further the work of the Co-Production Partnership?  What other ways do you think people can get involved and share their views on local services?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Previous comments ...

ROBERT MILLAR 18-Aug-2018 at 00:57 hrs

Patients should be more aware that they can complain and who to complain too


Tony Brady 17-Aug-2018 at 16:19 hrs

All that is required is to fund the Health Service in a fundamentally different way. At present, central government allocates funding. It trumpets to the public how it has increased resources. Less publicised is the CSR.The Comprehensive Spending Review. Cuts to services and savings targets are set by this imposed Treasury exercise. From then on services supply managers work with one hand behind their backs. They do not mind at all because their pay is linked to what they save via PRP - performance related pay.

I have been living in Germany since November, 2017. I am here to receive treatment not available to me in Northern Ireland. I am not deliberately setting out to compare and contrast the provision of service between the two countries. A Neurology Hospital Consultant confided in me. The German system is simple. The health authority knows what it cost to run the service from last year's usage of its varied services. It costs them for the coming year with a slight increase governed by taxation. A contingency sum is set aside to fund unexpected increases in demand. Enough money is agreed to fund all budgets: savings are identified as they occur and are not imposed. There is never any shortage of funding. Services flourish from year to year.

In the UK we know what the Health Service cost in 1948. We will not solve the annual costs challenges until we dispense with the current system of cuts and savings funding. The Managers have discovered the Holy Grail. It is cheaper to underfund health care and pay compensation to those denied it. Never has the health service paid out so much money to the victims of cheap and nasty spin as services are diminished and dissolved in smoke and mirrors...


Edith 17-Aug-2018 at 15:53 hrs

Great piece Ashley. So good to see learned experience and lived experience getting together. Keep up the good work.