Reflecting on two years of developing new care models

5 April 2017

Dr Phil Bennett-Richards, Chair of Tower Hamlets Together and local GP at Aberfeldy Practice, reflects on another 12 months of the New Care Models programme and the efforts to improve health and wellbeing in Tower Hamlets.

Coming up to the year’s end, it has been a busy few weeks in Tower Hamlets with projects finishing and others beginning, like the change of the season, to burst forth and blossom. The partnership work across the patch was highlighted in a stimulating Adult Safeguarding Board meeting sharing experiences and committing to joint learning and an upskilling of all the workforce in Tower Hamlets Together making the most of shared experiences to deliver best practice to our population.

Education has always been at the forefront of the integrated provider partnership in Tower Hamlets and it was fitting that John Gillespie from Tower Hamlets CVS represented Tower Hamlets Together at the recent Community Education Provider Network (CEPN) celebration event hosted by Health Education England. Tower Hamlets CEPN has delivered to over 3000 individuals in over 150 roles working across 120 local organisations, an amazing success story. John spoke passionately about his experience of working across organisations in Tower Hamlets to deliver health creation education that is relevant for staff in health, social services and the voluntary sector which improves the wellbeing of the population and staff alike. John also reminded the audience of how challenging it is sometimes to focus committees on delivering. It really feels that we are now entering a key phase where the doing, rather than the planning, is right at the tip of the drill.

It seems an awfully long time ago that the Tower Hamlets Integrated Provider Partnership, as we were then, were seated on a spring day at the Oval pitching for Vanguard status. Predating even this was our collective bid for the community services contract in Tower Hamlets and finally our dream of partnership working to deliver Community Health Services became a reality this week. The new model that we have been working on, building on the success of the network approach to integrated care, offers an exciting future for locally delivered care on a borough-wide footprint. It has been an immense effort across all partners and one where quality of care, support and development of the workforce and sustainability of community health and social care for local citizens have been the golden threads. I’m sure I speak for all of my friends and colleagues across partner organisations when I say how relieved we all are to see the ink dry on the final contract. It has been an immense privilege to be part of such an amazing group of people who have worked tirelessly over the last 3 years to make this dream a reality.

This month has also seen our community nursing pilot launch with the team visiting Buurtzorg colleagues in The Netherlands. Anyone who has seen this model in action up close can’t help but come away with enthusiasm for the passion and drive amongst the teams in delivering quality care and the high levels of satisfaction from both those who receive services and the workforce whom provide care. Our goal is to harness this energy in a model that keeps the best of the multidisciplinary team approach in Tower Hamlets whilst encouraging the autonomy and teamwork that pervades the teams over the water.

Data continues to wash up on the shore. In particular, the recent flu immunisations statistics were released, where work across all partners enabled primary care in Tower Hamlets to deliver best in London coverage for citizens aged over 65 years of age and pregnant women and second in the table for patients under 65 years of age with medical conditions. This exemplifies rock solid performance at individual practice level supplemented by partnership working and further delivery at a locality level.

It remains inspirational to be part of the journey but there’s a constant reminder that progress is predicated on the hard work and determination of all across the patch and the immense amount of enthusiasm and pride in the roles that all have in delivering the best possible care for the citizens of Tower Hamlets.