Published on: 1 January 2019

Hello, my name is Matt.

For many people hospitals are what they first think of when they think of the National Health Service, so in the week when the NHS turns 70, we wanted to take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on how our hospitals in West Yorkshire and Harrogate are working together to ensure they will continue to provide outstanding care and support to everyone who needs it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - and for the next 70 years. There are six acute hospital trusts in West Yorkshire and Harrogate which run all the main hospitals in the area:

  • Airedale NHS Foundation Trust - Airedale General Hospital
  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital
  • Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust - Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital
  • Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust - Harrogate and District Hospital
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust - Leeds General Infirmary and St James’ University Hospital
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust - Pinderfields General Hospital, Dewsbury Hospital and Pontefract Hospital

These hospitals have come together to form the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT) because they believe that the health and care challenges and opportunities facing our area cannot be solved by each hospital working alone.  We have committed to working together in partnership to improve services for the 2.6million people we serve and to ensure everyone, no matter where they live, have access to the same standards of care and treatment.I am lucky enough to be the WYAAT Programme Director with the privilege of working with all six trusts to help them collaborate.  

Since setting up WYAAT in early 2017 we have been working hard on a range of programmes which will address some of the challenges facing our hospitals and make improvements to our services.  There has been great collaboration between teams from all trusts and a huge commitment of time and effort from chief executives, clinicians and staff.  Our philosophy is that WYAAT is the combination of the trusts, not a separate organisation; WYAAT does not deliver programmes for the trusts, the trusts deliver them together supported by my small (but perfectly formed!) WYAAT programme management office team.

Our approach is already delivering results and the programmes are making excellent progress:

We are setting up a shared supply system for medicines which will not only save money and increase efficiency, but will increase quality by releasing pharmacists and nurses time to look after patients and increase safety by standardising medicines across all our hospitals.We are rolling out a new IT system to enable clinicians to share images, such as X-Rays and other scans.  

Harrogate went live with this system at the weekend and other trusts will follow over the next year and a half.  In parallel, and building on this system, our clinicians and managers are working together to standardise the processes and systems in radiology - at a workshop on 3 July clinicians and managers came together to agree the priorities for this work.  

Because of the progress we are making we were awarded a further £6m in March for additional IT systems to enable clinicians to work even closer together.In pathology we have already agreed to centralise immunology services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTHT) and in microbiology we are working together to address staff shortages in some trusts.  In March we were allocated £2m to expand the National Pathology Exchange system and we have put together a joint bid for funding to implement a common pathology information system across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.  

On 26 June pathologists, scientists and managers came together to discuss ways to improve how pathology is delivered in West Yorkshire and Harrogate with the intention of developing a full plan by the autumn.In April the trusts all decided that vascular services (diseases of the blood vessels, arteries, veins and circulatory system), both surgery and interventional radiology, should be delivered as a single “West Yorkshire Vascular Service”.  A single service will bring together the incredible expertise and resources from all the trusts.  The opportunities for sub-specialisation, research and education, to work differently and experience a wider range of cases, will improve quality for patients, increase efficiency and make West Yorkshire a more attractive place to work.

In October 2017, we welcomed Professor Tim Briggs  to West Yorkshire and Harrogate for the first ever whole system “Getting It Right First Time” (GIRFT) workshop which was attended by over 100 surgeons from the trusts.  Out of this workshop we have established a clinically led standardisation programme for elective orthopaedics which will ensure any patient, anywhere in West Yorkshire and Harrogate receives the same, high standard of careRecently we have established an additional programme to roll out “Scan4Safety” across the trusts.  LTHT has been a demonstrator site for this system which improves quality, safety and efficiency by using barcodes to ensure right patient, right place, right product and we have been awarded £15m to extend it across all the WYAAT trusts.

And these are just some of the highlights - we are also working together to make it easier for staff to work in any of our hospitals, to share IT systems, to reduce the cost of our supplies (we achieved over £1m savings through working together to on procure simple clinical supplies in 2017/18) and in a number of other areas.  There’s a lot happening!

Collaborating at this scale and in the current NHS system is really hard - it takes real commitment from everyone. So I hope by reading this week’s blog you will be as excited as I am about the way our hospital trusts are truly working together as partners and about what they are achieving together for the benefit of people living in West Yorkshire and Harrogate.  Together we can ensure our hospitals will still be delivering the best care on the NHS’ 100th Birthday!

 

This blog was originally publish in July 2018.

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