Self-Assessment of Governance Arrangements (SAGA): an evaluation of the contribution of the HIECs nationally

Increasingly, health policy-makers and managers all over the world see cross-sector health partnerships as an important mechanism to add value to their health systems and to improve the quality of healthcare for the communities they serve. Advocates of such partnerships argue that individual healthcare providers can no longer meet the complex healthcare needs and expectations of local communities in isolation from other healthcare providers across multiple care settings. Furthermore, in order to respond to the challenges of providing a far greater level of care to an ageing population within an affordable funding resource, it is argued that such partnerships benefit from the inclusion of the higher education sector, local authorities, industry, and the third sector. They believe that cross-sector health partnerships enable participant organisations to manage large-scale change, to exchange information, leverage each other’s resources, and co-ordinate activities.

In recent years, the central government in England mandated several types of cross-sector health partnerships aimed at improving the quality of care in the NHS and developing the landscape for innovation. While scholars and practitioners have begun to examine such partnerships, there is a paucity of evidence about the implementation of collaborative governance arrangements.  This project contributes to the literature on collaborative governance in cross-sector health partnerships by providing scholars and practitioners with the first comprehensive empirical evidence about collaborative governance arrangements and practices in one type of such partnerships in England – the Health Innovation and Education Clusters (HIEC). In doing so, the project increases the understanding of how to establish and develop effective cross-sector health partnerships in England’s publicly-funded and run NHS, with the potential for the ideas discussed here to be considered within other health systems internationally.

This is of particular importance following the introduction of the new Academic Health Science Networks which have a remit very similar to that of the HIECs.  Without the benefit of empirical research into what went before, there will be no progress made in benefits realisation from the significant new investment into innovation partnerships.  The Knowledge Team is delighted to be making a substantial contribution into the evaluation of the HIECs in order to support the AHSNs and other new bodies.

The first paper, authored by the HIEC Chief Executive with Pavel Ovseiko and Sue Powell can be found here:http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/14/552

A futher paper was submitted for review in 2015 and the next phase of the research will concentrate on how success is to be measured in cross-sectoral innovation networks for healthcare.

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