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Published 24 February 2017
Collaboration means many different things to different people in the NHS. In our view, the importance of defining your collaboration goes to the heart of its success. Agreeing your aims, knowing what is expected of you and those that you are collaborating with to achieve those aims, is a pre-requisite to achieving your goals.
There are two main themes of collaboration that are being considered in the NHS at present - Shared Services “Carter” Collaborations and New Models of Care. It is vital that these collaborations are not considered in isolation, as they are often intrinsically linked.
The Carter Review: “Operational productivity and performance in English NHS acute hospitals: Unwarranted variations” recommended that there are efficiencies to be gained by NHS organisations collaborating to provide back office services, procurement, estates and facilities management support, etc.
There are many different models available to NHS organisations looking at such collaborations, each of which have advantages and disadvantages.
Increasingly, providers of NHS funded services are considering how to collaborate in order to create Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). The NHS Five Year Forward View sets out different models for collaboration (including multi-speciality community providers and primary and acute care systems).
Notwithstanding the differing terminology, the most obvious similarity is that the collaborations will lead to a more integrated provision of services based on the patient’s needs. It will also involve (in its purest form) a transference of the risk of overrun of activity from the commissioners to the providers, and it is therefore important that providers consider how they can share risk under an ACO model.
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