Successful collaborations between Connect Health and the NHS in west Hertfordshire and the London Borough of Brent, have led to two finalist places in the highly prestigious HSJ Partnership Awards 2021.
Both shortlists are in the ‘Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHS’ category, each showing tangible efficiencies and enhanced patient outcomes including reduced waiting times, improved satisfaction and cost savings.
Leading community services healthcare provider, Connect Health, began working with Herts Valleys CCG in early 2018 to support its Your Care, Your Future programme as nearly a quarter of people in West Hertfordshire suffer with musculoskeletal (MSK) and pain complaints, including back pain, hip osteoarthritis and knee osteoarthritis. Moving away from the traditional hospital outpatient model, this patient-led approach introduced integrated specialist healthcare in community locations.
Patients can access services including physiotherapy, pain and community rheumatology at over 20 clinical sites. These provide a single point of access and multi-professional specialist care depending on need. This approach has resulted in a 41% reduction in waiting times, satisfied patients (with eight out of ten saying they would recommend the service to friends and family) and year-on-year savings for the CCG of £2.5m, despite a 13% increase in demand for services.
In January 2019, Brent CCG turned to Connect Health to provide community physiotherapy services and later a clinical assessment and triage service (CATS), supporting local people with MSK problems.
Part of the NHS Brent ‘Out of Hospital’ strategy, the partnership explored a new community-based treatment model which aimed to ensure that patient referrals were dealt with quickly by qualified and experienced practitioners, ensuring rapid access to the right point of care.
Results included a huge decrease in appointment waiting times, from 12 weeks to just 5-10 days. The knock-on impact also saw an impressive reduction in the number of patients needing MRI scans or secondary care appointments for surgical review.
As 64% of Brent’s population comprises BAME communities, the service operated multiple language speaking clinics – spanning 11 languages. It also offered GP referrals, specifically for women’s health covering obstetrics and gynaecology. Quite out of the ordinary for traditional physiotherapy clinics, these specialist services were a hit with patients and 80% said they would recommend the service to family or friends.
Paul Allan, Director of NHS Services, Connect Health comments;
Musculoskeletal conditions and pain affects a significant proportion of the UK population, around one in four people, and in both these partnerships there was a major need to ensure equity of access for patients requiring local care.
Working in collaboration with GPs, Hospital Trusts and the CCGs has resulted in building effective end-to-end pathways, benefitting patients and colleagues alike. I’m extremely proud that our achievements have been recognised by the HSJ.
Asif Faizy, clinical lead, Herts Valleys CCG added;
We are delighted to have been recognised by the HSJ which is a testament to the hard work of both teams. The MSK service has really improved over the last year, cutting waiting times and improving patient satisfaction. In addition, Connect Health has to be commended for their support to NHS frontline services in Herts Valleys during the Covid-19 pandemic, whether providing colleagues in rehab teams on a ward to enable people to be discharged home quicker or in physio roles in various locations.
Dr Shazia Siddiqi, GP Lead, Brent CCG says;
I am thrilled to have received recognition for the team in this way. Working with Connect Health has been a really innovative collaboration between commissioner and provider and the benefits have been felt all around. The patient facing aspect has seen fast appropriate care being delivered in community settings with a range of different modalities and languages to accommodate our diverse population. As a service, this has been a pleasure to have developed and the Connect team has helped achieve our vision for an unrivalled MSK Service for the patients of Brent.
The awards’ judging panel comprised a diverse range of highly regarded figures across the NHS and wider healthcare sector. To be shortlisted as a finalist, despite tough competition from a pool of brilliant applications, is a mark of real achievement for Connect Health and Herts Valleys and Brent CCGs.
HSJ editor Alastair McLellan concludes;
We would like to congratulate Connect Health and Herts Valleys and Brent CCGs. We are looking forward to welcoming them to the ceremony in June, to join us in recognising the very best collaborations and innovations in the healthcare sector. This year’s finalists are of an outstanding calibre and all of them are exceptionally dedicated to enhancing healthcare across the UK.
The winners will be selected following a rigorous, judging stage ahead of the summer ceremony. The awards evening is expected to be attended by leaders and professionals from both the NHS and private sector as well as figures from non-clinical backgrounds to celebrate innovation and collaboration in healthcare.