Since 2021, HRCH and Kingston Hospital have been working together more closely to improve the way we deliver healthcare services, working in a more integrated way that benefits local people. We call this programme of work Better Together.
In April 2022, we brought the executive leadership teams of our two organisations together as one, remaining individual trusts, but establishing a Committee in Common which is empowered to make key strategic decisions with the benefit of expertise and insight from across the full range of services.
This means our Chief Executive, Chair and other senior leaders work across HRCH and Kingston Hospital, allowing our organisations to share best practice and approach patient pathways more holistically.
We know that working together as one team makes us stronger and more able to provide the kind of joined-up services that local people want – services that are equitable and provide good value for money.
What are the benefits of working together?
We know that one of the biggest issues people complain about in the NHS is poor communication – as well as services that are disjointed and a system that is often difficult to navigate.
Patients wait longer than they should, and this issue is only likely to increase as more people live longer and with increasingly complex conditions. By coming together, we have an opportunity to share knowledge and resilience across NHS teams to improve care and overall patient experience.
For our staff, we believe our partnership will also lead to a much broader range of career opportunities as well as the ability to move between our organisations, which will help us to attract and retain the best people.
As partners, we can achieve things that we could never do as individual organisations – removing barriers to care and providing services that meet the needs of local people in a far more holistic way.
The future of the NHS lies in creating closer and more dynamic partnerships between organisations. By coming together now, we will be able to chart our own path in a way that benefits the local people we serve and the people who work with us. We will continue to play an active role in our local integrated care services, with a more united voice that will help us make the important changes needed to improve care.
Historically, acute services have received a greater proportion of NHS funding than local community services. And while hospital care is still a vital part of the puzzle, community services are increasingly important in avoiding admissions and empowering people to manage their conditions and achieve a good quality of life, with success determined by what matters to individuals.
In other parts of the country where organisations have come together in this way, the results have included reduced hospital stays and more people able to maintain their independence at home.
Future of our partnership
Recently, our Deputy CEO and Director of Strategy, Thom Lafferty, has been leading work to engage with colleagues across our partnership on our new strategy and on a single vision for our organisations.
We’ve also agreed a shared set of objectives, which focus on improving the health of local people, creating sustainable, high quality services, and ensuring we create the right conditions for our people to thrive.
Through this work and our discussions with colleagues, we’ve heard a real desire to do even more to deliver person-centred, integrated services which tackle variation and duplication in clinical practice across community and acute settings.
We have also heard about the frustration of operational boundaries between our organisations, which can get in the way of delivering great care. And while our closer working has begun to break down some of these barriers, it’s clear there is still a lot more we could do to deliver truly great, seamless care.
A piece of work is now underway, called a strategic outline case, reviewing the relationship between Kingston Hospital and HRCH. This includes the option of a merger. We are currently engaging with our staff and partners on this.
We believe that coming together as one team would enable us to make more effective use of our joint resources, channelling funding where it will be most effective so that we can prevent illness in the community and when people are unwell, provide more of the care that is needed at home.
Based on experiences from other parts of the country, we feel this would put us in a better position to support people to stay well and receive services in the most appropriate setting, helping us to make better use of our resources, and reduce variation in care. These changes would not happen overnight, but we believe that we need to start somewhere and that this is as good a place as any to start.
For staff, being part of a single organisation would make it easier to gain experience in different areas and we are beginning to see that more in teams which are joining together, such as our corporate services and in our allied health professionals.
We have developed a set of principles that run through the Better Together programme and help to inform all our decisions.
- Test of any change: It benefits patients or our population, builds resilience and has value for money.
- Parity of esteem: Equal voice for acute and community services, where there is consensual approach to reaching shared decisions.
- Drivers of our collective activity would enrich staff, broaden their experiences and support innovation.
- Patients and staff are actively engaged in shaping and informing our collaborative work.
- Operating model supports Place and local delivery, and helps patients move seamlessly between primary, community and acute care.
- Empower our staff to make improvements at scale and pace.
- Streamline governance to empower staff.
- Where economies of scale are sought, these would be co-designed (ie no asset stripping).
Committee in Common
The Committee in Common (CiC) is a collaborative meeting between board committees from HRCH and Kingston Hospital, with some delegated authority.
The meeting is designed to facilitate collaborative working between the Trusts to improve healthcare in the hospital and community.
As the Committee in Common will be also dealing with items that the Board has done in the past, the meetings are held in public.
Committee in Common meeting dates:
- 26 October 2022
- 25 January 2023
- 29 March 2023
- 24 May 2023
- 26 July 2023
- 27 September 2023
- 29 November 2023
- 31 January 2024
- 20 March 2024
If you would like to join a meeting, please email email@example.com.
Submit a question or comment
You can ask a question or send a comment about our Better Together programme at any point using our online form.