Black Country NHS trusts publish joint five-year strategy

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust have worked in collaboration to identify priorities over the next five years.

Their joint vision is to “deliver exceptional care together to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities”, with four strategic aims to excel in the delivery of care; to support colleagues; to implement effective collaboration; and to improve the health and wellbeing of the trusts’ communities.

Here, we will examine how digital and innovation tie into the new strategy.

The strategy opens by sharing how the two trusts have “a history of innovation that ranges from the introduction of a Clinical Fellowship Programme to the construction of a solar farm”, and sets out their ambition to improve further.

With regards to how the trusts intend to meet their collaboration aim, the strategy sets out how they will “provide sustainable healthcare services that maximise efficiency by effective collaboration with our partners”. This includes an aim to “implement technological solutions that improve a patient’s experience by preventing admission or reducing time in hospital”.

The strategy elaborates: “We know what technology exists that can support a patient to remain in their own home or to make their experience a better one when in hospital. We will focus our efforts on collaborating with providers who are able to support an improvement in our patients’ experience and reduce the demand on our hospitals.”

Another aim in this area is to “facilitate research that establishes new knowledge and improves the quality of care of patients”, with research and innovation highlighted as “a core component of trusts’ activity and key to making advancements in patient care”. Clinical research is noted as “an essential requirement to improve knowledge and understanding of which treatments work best”.

The strategy sets out a governance process for the trust indicating how governance will flow from external mechanisms such as Care Quality Commission reviews through to internal assurance mechanisms such as the trust boards. Within the boards, there is a committee focusing specifically on Research, Digital and Innovation, underlining the trusts’ work in this area.

The board papers provide some more detail on the role of digital in the strategy, noting how increased use of digital services such as webinars and video conferencing is noted to reduce the need for staff and patients to travel. The papers also share an example of existing digital collaborative work between the two trusts as they work to implement a single pregnancy record, led by digital midwives and digital leads, with an expected go-live date in 2023.

To read the strategy in full, please click here.