Learning from: West Midlands (South)
The WM(S)HIEC projects were wide ranging, both in terms of conditions targeted and in what they were setting out to achieve. In some cases, such as the sexual health and dementia projects, they aimed to strengthen knowledge and change behaviours surrounding a particular condition. In others such as Ambulatory Care, Neonates and Youthspace the aim was to strengthen the professional healthcare response. Project leads have been very positive about WM(S)HIEC and the way it has worked with them over the past two years.
Most praised the light touch but ‘hands on’ approach of WM(S)HIEC staff. The focus on cross sector projects, the emphasis on partnership working and the support that WM(S)HIEC was in most cases able to give to make new working relationships work smoothly, were key to its success
A key aim was to facilitate cross sector working and it was a cornerstone of WM(S)HIEC’s approach that it would only fund collaborative projects. Whilst sometimes adding to the complexity of a project, this encouraged partners to work together and some project leads felt it gave them access to partners they would not otherwise have been able to reach, particularly in a clinical setting.
WM(S)HIEC correctly recognised that innovation requires an acceptance of risk, that some projects will not work out as hoped and that some may fail. Accordingly, the projects supported by WM(S)HIEC were by no means all ‘safe bets’.
However, projects reported a number of hurdles, some of them unexpected, with which they had to deal before they could bring their work to completion. These include the difficulty in accessing staff time to test innovations, carry out evaluations or undertake training. This was one of the more common barriers to project progress. Projects also reported reluctance from staff to get involved in areas that they saw as specialist in their own right and outside their own areas of expertise.