News, NP

Barnsley Hospital focus on innovative working and new technology in five-year strategy

With the COVID-19 pandemic triggering change throughout the NHS and causing a need to reset and refocus, this week Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust published its new five-year strategy to capture the trust’s new vision, and how they will seek to achieve their aims.

The strategy begins by stating, ‘We believe this strategy will shape an exciting, new and sustainable future for our services and the people of Barnsley. [We will] introduce innovative new ways of working and new technology to improve our services and deliver holistic care’.

It goes on to share the trust’s overarching mission to ‘provide the best possible care for the people of Barnsley and beyond at all stages of their life’.

Underpinning this, the trust identifies its six strategic goals are to provide the ‘best’ for patients and the public, its own people and performance, partners, place in the community and the planet as a whole.

The 2022 – 2017 strategy focuses on delivering goals by using a ‘three horizon’ model, in which the horizons (the first two years, years two to four, and years four to five and onwards) are worked upon flexibly, rather than in rigid stages. In the first eighteen months, the priority is ‘Recovery and Building Back Better’, allowing the organisation to build back from the impact of the pandemic. Following on from that, ‘Building on Emerging Opportunities’ will see the trust develop on existing work, incorporating emerging opportunities into the programme as they develop. The final horizon, ‘Creating Innovative and Sustainable Future Options’, will introduce ‘major strategic initiatives designed to take [the] organisation to the next level in terms of innovation, sustainability and new ways of working’.

Here we explore the key focuses of the strategy, looking into how digital working and technology in particular will be used by Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust over the next five years.

The strategy lays out the trust’s key ambitions to become a digital technology leader in the NHS, including to work flexibly across multiple sites, and provide care closer to home, or home care where possible. It also aims to ‘deliver integrated care with partners, providing specialist services and working in partnership to drive integrated local and regional healthcare’.

With the ambition to become a digital technology leader within the NHS embedded within its strategic goals, it is worth highlighting that the trust committed to digital ways of working in 2020 with the introduction of a major IT system, along with a communications app for patients to communicate with staff and an E-Midwife service on Facebook. Due to early commitment to digital working, the trust was able to offer video appointments within days of government guidelines instructing in-person visiting to cease.

The new strategy states that as part of their goal to provide the best service for patients and the public, the trust will ‘continue to use digital transformation to support new ways of working and will build on solutions that enable our teams to work fully electronically and remotely’. In the first two years of the strategy, the trust said it will look to “improve the way our patients access our services and engage with us, including building on virtual methods of consultation and communication.”

For its people, the trust has made it a priority during the early years of the strategy to support digitally-enhanced ways of working, implement an electronic prescribing and medicine administration system for inpatients, along with an electronic document management system. The strategy states the trust will: ‘build on solutions that enable our teams to work fully electronically and remotely where appropriate’. By around 2026/27, the strategy indicates that the trust hopes to have digital solutions for staff in place.

Digital solutions are a focus for the trust’s patients and public aims, too: during the second horizon phase, the trust will seek to ‘support the improved use of digital solutions and streamlined pathways and explore alternative to invasive surgery’.

An aim towards the end of the five-year plan is for the trust to ‘exceed expectations in performance levels’, and the strategy indicates that the trust believes that they will in part achieve this through ‘new ways of working and digitally enhanced processes’; an indicator of the emphasis that the Trust intends to place upon technology throughout the next five years.

To read the strategy in full, please click here.