The NHS Transformation Unit is a not-for-profit consultancy service provided from within the NHS, for the NHS. Consultancy is a field of expertise that organisations do sometimes require and so the consolidation of this expertise within the NHS enables funds to be reinvested. The Transformation Unit has an independent board, and a range of experienced staff coming from varied backgrounds including the NHS, local authority, Health Education England and the private sector. The team has the expertise, integrity and innovation to drive health and care transformation forward to ensure staff can deliver consistently outstanding patient care in the right place, at the right time, in the right conditions.
Whilst the unit initially focused on the Greater Manchester footprint, it is rapidly expanding nationally and is supporting the other North West footprints of Cheshire and Mersey, and Lancashire and South Cumbria. Working with Greater Manchester has evolved extensive experience as it was one of the pioneers of transformation through devolution (now the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership) but the Transformation Unit is not only sharing that knowledge, but now drawing on the new experiences the remaining North West and other footprints have to offer.
Head of Nursing Kelly Bishop was introduced to the Transformation Unit in July. She describes that successful transformation is about recognising the importance of the workforce and that developing the skills of the people within the NHS helps public resources to be kept in the public sector. She says: “We are here to do a job - to make our NHS sustainable and ensure it continues to deliver great care. At the Transformation Unit we are all passionate about the NHS and we want to use our skills and work to our core values which are people focused, to empower, to act with integrity and to be driven. We are all 100% committed to those values.”
Kelly recognises that the combination of a fear of large scale change, and the introduction of an independent organisation such as the NHS Transformation Unit in supporting that change, can be regarded with suspicion by staff but stressed that there are considerable positives. “When you are implementing a change that may be hard and perhaps across many organisational boundaries, our team has no organisational loyalty and can look at it from a completely objective view of what is best for the population and the individual patient. You need independent people who are very good facilitators and will add challenge into the system.”
Kelly’s vision for the NHS Transformation Unit is to promote nurse led transformation and a multidisciplinary approach. She said: “Nursing is at the foundation of all care. A lot of programmes are medically led and not clinically led. Whilst we need doctors, nurses and HPs bring a new perspective - they bring compassion and to see the whole person which is a very specific skill. My aim is to take the clinical workforce into shaping future healthcare and integration at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Kelly believes that the fact that some STPs are in the early stages is advantageous as nurses can be involved from the outset and get themselves embedded in clinical redesign.
She is in the process of arranging training sessions for bands 7 and 8 in the region to give those nurses the knowledge and confidence to get involved in clinical redesign. The sessions will give them an overview of STPs and ICSs and to learn about transformation, giving them the assurance that they can be a leader in the process.
Kelly said: “We need to change the culture from nurses being involved at the end of a process and being asked for feedback, to being involved at the beginning to shape the transformation. We have so much to offer in the design of future services.”
Kelly also understands how hard it is for nurses to be released from the clinical environment to attend meetings. “Nurses are busy caring for people and often struggle to find the time outside of their day job; my role is about making time for them. Spending a couple of hours in their clinical environment can tell me more than being sat in a boardroom for a week discussing what needs to be done.”
Kelly will also be working with RCN North West to deliver training for our reps at their learning and development sessions is 2019.
RCN North West Regional Director Estephanie Dunn said: “It is great to be working with Kelly and the NHS Transformation Unit. Nursing staff are ideally placed to know what works best for the people they care for. The RCN is calling for nurses and health practitioners to be involved in plans as they develop, not as an afterthought. Nurses and health practitioners should not have to second guess what will happen to their profession or the people and communities that they provide services and care to.
“This is why it is so important to be working with Kelly who will be able provide valuable information about how to stand up and help to shape future transformation across the North West. This is a fantastic opportunity for our staff and reps to learn about how to help design what is best for our service users and our members.”