Partnership Meeting – 20th March 2012

The recent meeting of Thames Valley HIEC Partnership took place at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in the lecture theatre at 4.30pm on 20th March. It was well attended by a cross-section of partners from right across the three counties, despite the Spring weather which might have tempted people to go home.

The theme of the meeting was Facing the Future: how to develop innovation and learning in the Thames Valley. Dr. Cathy O’Sullivan, HIEC Chief Executive, began by presenting an overview of the new structures which are being set up, and posed several questions about how these bodies might link together; what their membership might be; from what geographical constituency they might be drawn and what each might do. She then discussed the contribution that the Thames Valley HIEC has made to these different agendas, and posed a question around how the HIEC legacy that can be built into these successor bodies. Alternatively, Thames Valley HIEC has sufficient funding to keep going until March 2015, so perhaps will play a role outside the new structures, supporting the time of transition.

There then followed a lively discussion, during which the following areas were covered;

  • The necessity to take local ownership of these new structures, to help to shape their potential in the thinking of DH as well as within our own patch
  • The relevance of the HIEC contribution to many of the functions that are now to be rehoused
  • The vibrancy of the local partnerships and a general willingness to see this way of working continued (with an acknowledgement too that real partnership working is difficult and does not happen by chance or by just talking about it – it needs to be built on clear work programmes)
  • The need to have a philosophy of “innovation”, whether we are thinking of open source innovation, or of social innovation, or of any other approach; the new body will need to have a justification of its way of working which is theoretically grounded
  • Geography is not an issue as there is a wish to have a culture of inclusion
  • Such inclusion should extend to organisations from outside the NHS, and to different kinds of professional networks; there is much to be learnt from the practice of others

During the course of the meeting, it was accepted that there is not too much detailed planning that can happen until DH publishes more about how the new bodies will be set up, and that might well include guidance on geography. Potential functions of the new Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) were set out in a document tabled at the meeting, and there was a general agreement to consider further the role of an AHSN once it becomes clearer what scope there is for local design, and to what extent the functions will be mandated centrally. It is recognized that the statutory responsibility for the promotion of innovation in the new landscape of the NHS rests with commissioners – with the National Commissioning Board and with CCGs locally. However, the AHSN will clearly have a strong role to play on the delivery side; and in the articulation with AHSCs, LETBs and the new Strategic Clinical Networks.

The meeting ended with a general commitment to continue this discussion over the next few weeks and months, which the HIEC agreed to continue to facilitate.

Dr Cathy O’Sullivan Presentation for Partnership Meeting

AHSN Discussion Document


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