Wednesday, 28 May 2014

30 minutes on transformation and ideas for change

Ok, I have really been struggling to find the time to blog but I keep hearing how valuable people are finding it so thank you for your comments.  

I have just found thirty minutes and I have set myself a task to tell you as much as I can about our transformation programme in that time *closes door and slides down in  chair so no one can see me!*

Last week I spent nearly four hours with the executive team talking about the next phase of our challenge. We have since launched our vision and strategy but now need to work with our staff, service users, carers and partners to talk about the plans we need to develop and put in place… and let’s not forget we also have to find around £45 million of savings over the next five years.

The vision and the strategy are crucial to a successful future but all the plans in the world are meaningless if we don’t lead a well-run organisation now. I like the concept of high reliability organisations, which I think is derived from the aviation industry.  It also has been adopted and applied by many healthcare organisations.

Simply put, it promotes a culture of safety and learning from adverse events. I already think we do this well, but we can do even better and drive out variation and improve standards even more. Given the challenges we face, and the change we will have to go through, keeping this as a priority is key.

Every leader and all staff in Pennine Care have a responsibility to provide safe patient care and we all have a shared responsibility to not only spot problems but to develop solutions together.

A culture of safety means ensuring we are clinically-led. This can be challenging as clinicians, understandably, are often concerned about the impact on quality due to financial savings. Whilst it is challenging I believe the only solution is to work even more closely together and to share the responsibility to find the best plans to take services forward and reduce costs.

I also am of a view that we have to hold an ambition to improve services, even when facing £45 million savings plans. I don’t think we should just assume, give up or accept the notion that this level of savings will make things worse or reduce services. It will change services, yes, but £231 million (the pot left behind) is still a lot of income and we should work together to design a future that makes the best use of this investment.

I’m not wearing rose-coloured spectacles or being blinkered to the challenge, but if we put patients first then we have to drive to deliver the best possible change for them. We can’t change the financial climate we are in but we are in control of our attitude and approach to the challenges we face.

*Half way through the thirty minutes… tick, tick, tick!*  

We also talked about the vision and strategy. I am really pleased we have put together a vision and a strategy, including a plan on a page of our Service Development Strategy. This sets out our overall ambition rather than our detailed plans.  

Therefore, in the last 12 minutes of my 30 minute blog I’ll share some quick thoughts on what each of the transformation programmes could mean.  The transformation programme has seven steps:

Living well
This means promoting self-care and self-management, health literate and empowered patients. If patients can be less reliant on current care systems we may be able to change the way hospitals work and our community-based services are designed.

Living well may mean more care coordination, risk stratification, expert patient programmes and different team make up and skill mix and different provider models to deliver care.

Easy access
Better co-ordinated access is something many patients ask for. In Oldham we are working with Age UK to appoint four ‘Promoting Independence in People (PIP)’ workers, who will help patients to navigate through the system to become empowered in managing their own health and care needs.

This has meant changing our multi-disciplinary teams and having different non-professional workers join from the voluntary sector. It is just one example of how we are doing things differently and better.

Whole person care
I have a view that parity of esteem in mental health means better physical care for people with mental illness, as well as better psychological care for people with physical health conditions. This aspect of a person’s care is still barely featured in models of care.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or psychoeducation should be a standard aspect of our care pathway for long term conditions and means making sure our staff are more broadly trained.

It also means we need to bring our mental health and community teams closer together, providing integrated care to each patient.

Places that work
Our care should be provided in the homes of people we care for or as close to their homes and families as possible. This means we need to organise services around our local communities and neighbourhoods, not around professional groups or disciplines.

It doesn’t mean losing professional identity, we need strong clinical voices, but delivering locally with primary care, social care and community resources.

Better use of technology
I could write on this alone but I’d rather ask a question - how much does technology play a part in the care you deliver in your team? And do you use the latest technology in your team?

I know the Trust has a responsibility to put this in place and we are doing this with the PARIS clinical system, but do you drive it forward in your teams? How modern are you in your thinking on different ways to deliver care?

I would put forward that rather than digital by design, nurses and health care professionals should be working digitally by prescription. The application of technology should be a common feature of assessing someone’s needs, as you would for wound care or medicine.

Fewer buildings
Buildings are expensive and I’d rather work differently and invest in staff than bricks and mortar. The problem is buildings are also a hard habit to give up, but we have to reduce the cost of office space.

Where we have buildings we should open them up to communities and interested groups when we aren’t using them. We often leave an expensive building empty in the evenings and at weekends, when community groups would love to have some space to meet in.

Different ways to deliver care
We have to think broadly what this could mean? Different ways of delivering different aspects of what we do, set up a social enterprise maybe? We have discussed this as one example. Some commissioners have a view that some of our services are uneconomic, I also think we could do some things better at a reduced cost. We have to find ways to deliver better value in some areas.

Bed-based care is a significant cost and some trusts are reducing their bed base. I think we have avoided going any further than our historical changes, for good reasons, but we should still have the conversation and look again.

I could go on and on considering what transformation planning might mean but I have run out of time!  What I will say in closing is that it is critical that we involve patients, carers, staff and stakeholders in developing plans to respond to our challenges, and that we must not lose sight of being a great place to work.  Pennine Care must still engage, recognise and reward our staff for the hard work, dedication and commitment they give every day.

We owe our staff both of those points to support them through the challenges we will face together.

Tweet your thoughts to @MichaelMcCourt1 or comment below. 


  1. Penny Cunliffe19 June 2014 at 08:40

    First time I've read your blog and am really pleased with what I've read. Especially on 'Living Well; Easy Access and Whole Person Care. We really do need to move 'up stream' in terms of Health Education and Health Promotion to improve Health literacy and reduce the need for the 'ill- health services' we currently provide.

  2. I was particularly interested in your comments about delivering what you do in different ways and social enterprise development. Groundwork has a great track record of making a sustainable difference at a local level and working in partnership. Why not let us help you in this mission? There's an open invitation for you to come and see the difference we make across Oldham, Rochdale, Bury and Bolton.
    Vicki Devonport, Executive Director, Groundwork

  3. Was especially interested in your comments about doing things differently and social enterprise development. Groundwork can help you with this.. as we have a strong track record of making a difference at a local level as well as developing strong local partner networks. Would be good for you to see the work we do at first hand.
    Vicki Devonport, Groundwork