Patients are starting to benefit from closer collaboration between two neighbouring trusts in north east London which are pooling some resources this winter.
More than 1,500 people on the Barts Health books are having scans and procedures through Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), where there is spare diagnostic capacity.
These transfers will ensure people are treated more quickly and reduce the backlog of those waiting up to two years for routine treatment because of Covid pressures.
Meanwhile clinicians and managers from Barts Health are supporting BHRUT in areas under operational pressure like emergency care.
Ad hoc mutual aid is common in the NHS but BHRUT and Barts Health NHS Trust recently agreed to collaborate more closely across several fronts.
The first joint projects focused on winter preparations have so far resulted in:
- Almost 900 people waiting for ultrasound scans being referred from Barts Health to BHRUT for speedier diagnosis before treatment
- More than 650 people waiting for endoscopies at Barts Health having their procedures at BHRUT hospitals
- About £5m being invested in extra CT, MRI and ultrasound scanners and staff for services run by BHRUT, including at Barking Community Hospital
- About 20 patients waiting for ear, nose and throat surgery being offered operations at BHRUT, with plans in the pipeline to refer 25 every week
- Sharing best practice among the five A&Es to rotate staff and ensure the sickest walk-in patients get rapid access to the right care
- A senior Barts Health consultant, Dr Karim Ahmad, being seconded to BHRUT as Emergency Care Improvement Director.
The A&E collaboration is one ingredient of a wider regional initiative involving Homerton hospital and London Ambulance to reduce delays and ensure people who need urgent or emergency care get appropriate treatment as promptly as possible.
In addition, all senior vacancies are now advertised across both trusts, and we are looking into aligning rates of pay for temporary employees and managing Bank workers jointly to reduce the amount spent on expensive agency staff.
Jacqui Smith, chair in common of the two boards, said:
“We are moving from a period of discussion and design into a delivery phase. This winter is both a challenge and an opportunity to demonstrate that closer collaboration enables us to provide better access, better experience and better outcomes for patients.”
Following publication in September of the document Closer Collaboration setting out our plans, the Boards of the two trusts agreed to work with system partners in north east London on a fully resourced programme to make swift progress on the areas that will make the most immediate difference to our patients and staff.