Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) and Barts Health group have spent the past few months talking to staff and stakeholders about the challenges and the opportunities of working more closely together to improve the quality of the care they offer and the patient experience. The crucial test is that any collaboration must deliver better, quicker and more effective access to services for the residents of north east London (NEL).
Collaborative working happened at the height of the pandemic when, with other partners across NEL, the two trusts created a critical care hub. The move away from organisational boundaries was to the benefit of patients. The critical care hub isn’t an isolated example:
- Clinicians from both organisations have worked together to ensure an equitable provision of cancer care across the seven boroughs they serve.
- A senior doctor from Barts Health has been seconded to BHRUT as their Medical Improvement Director to work with teams to improve quality and safety in the provision of urgent and emergency care at Queen’s Hospital and King George Hospital.
- Cardiologists from BHRUT helped the Barts Heart Centre address its backlog by setting up a complex device service from scratch and treating more than 40 patients who needed implantable defibrillators or pacemakers.
- Eight consultant cardiologists work across both trusts.
Under the umbrella of the integrated care system (ICS), Barts Health and BHRUT are determined to continue to provide this sort of tangible patient benefit, especially when it can tackle the inequalities that have been widened by Covid-19. As two independent trusts, with separate boards, the emphasis will be on improving outcomes rather than on changing organisational structures.
As well as managing winter demands and continuing to recover from Covid-19, the priorities for the collaborative work in the coming months will include reducing waiting lists, improving urgent and emergency care performance, and recruiting and retraining staff. You can read more about the plans in the Closer collaboration document below. The emphasis is on mutual aid and mutual support. We will also explore bidding for additional government funding to improve services at Newham Hospital and Barking Community Hospital.
This document only addresses the relationship between BHRUT and Barts Health. Both organisations will continue their vital work with their respective boroughs to develop and strengthen place-based health and care partnerships.
The intention is that closer collaboration will help residents because it will deliver fairer, and quicker access to better treatment and, by working together, the two organisations will spend taxpayers’ money more wisely.
From next month, the Rt Hon Jacqui Smith will be the chair in common of Barts Health and BHRUT. She will engage widely with stakeholders and consider what she can do to take forward the collaboration.
The two trusts are playing leading roles in the ongoing work to create a fully integrated care system across NEL. It’s anticipated that these discussions will result in agreement on a joint Memorandum of Understanding with our partners in the NEL ICS.