Interview: “Involving Londoners in our work is absolutely key” Joss Palmer, programme director at OneLondon

We recently caught up with Joss Palmer, OneLondon programme director, to learn more about projects and progress in the capital. Joss shared with us the latest on initiatives including the London Care Record, the Universal Care Plan, work on mental health and on the OneLondon Secure Data Environment.

Joss began by offering a brief introduction to her role and OneLondon, which she described as “our name for our collaborative work across London. There are five different integrated care systems across London – and our OneLondon work is focused on where we need to do work together across the Capital, particularly when it relates to information sharing and data sharing.”

Joss’ area of interest is around information sharing at scale – across multiple organisations and spanning health and social care.

“We know what the problems are, and this work is all about working across organisational boundaries, understanding other people’s perspectives; building trusted relationships and collaboration.”

OneLondon’s projects

Joss discussed some of the current projects underway with OneLondon, including the London Care Record, which is based on Oracle Health’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) platform and now “regularly sees two million views per month”. She noted that OneLondon has been increasing the number of organisations sharing across the capital and has also been working with some organisations outside London.

Regarding outcomes, Joss shared that the team hears feedback from clinicians and health and care professionals about how they find the London Care Record “game changing”, as well as feedback on how staff members use it on a daily basis.  “We’ve brought some of those testimonies to light on our website, where we’ve shared some in-depth case studies, so that’s really great. But one of the things that we do struggle with sometimes is how we can prove those benefits or outcomes, and how we measure them,” she acknowledged. “We’ve recently done an economic evaluation of the London Care Record with the help of Queens University Belfast, who have helped us to demonstrate the value of what that means for frontline staff.”

Joss also highlighted the Universal Care Plan that London has delivered with Better, which initially went live with a focus on urgent care and end-of-life. “Since then we’ve made it accessible via the NHS App, which is a brilliant step forward. Our most recent go-live has been to support care for sickle cell – and further enhancements are planned.”

Joss also shared new pan-London work to support the Mental Health Act where OneLondon will be working with Thalamos, London’s mental health trusts and a range of other partners across the capital. “The current processes for the Mental Health Act in London are very manual and heavily paper-based, so our work is a positive step forward and we know from other parts of the country that this will deliver benefits to patient care.”

Use of data for decision-making and planning

We asked how London is currently making use of data and data analytics across its projects and whether she could share any insight into progress on the Secure Data Environment.

“There’s clearly lots of work that’s happening in London and across the country on SDEs and we are working closely with national teams and colleagues from other parts of the country,” she said. “Our collaborative work in London is being led from North East London and North West London. This is a big pan-London effort. But everybody is part of that. It’s challenging, as it is a big endeavour, but it’s making good progress.”

Joss explained that each of the five London ICSs has a “significant history of making use of data to support clinical decision-making, so some of the work around this secure data environment is not coming on to a greenfield site – because people have been using data insights for planning to support direct care for quite a while.”

She added some insight from sessions in 2023 with the OneLondon’s Citizen Advisory Group  specifically focused around the use of data for research. “Our work with the public provides important learning for us, which is why involving Londoners in our work is absolutely key.”

Key takeaways from the sessions included that people expected the NHS to share data, and “people are very supportive when they can see the value of information being shared. We definitely got a really strong message on the importance of making sure we’ve got robust processes, in terms of how people are granted access to use that data, and on using it in a way that the public can feel confident that it’s legitimate and will bring value.”

Talking about some of the challenges London has faced when tackling these collaborative projects, Jocelyn mentioned scale as being a key complexity.

“There’s always that challenge of collaboration at scale, because it might be hard to do something within a single trust – but that expands even more when we are working across the whole of London region. The number of people, priorities and perspectives is key. So it’s all about to how keep everybody on the journey, and a lot of that comes down to continuing to build and look after trust and relationships, and also perhaps realising that you can never do too much communication.”

Looking ahead in 2024

For the Universal Care Plan, Jocelyn shared how OneLondon has been focusing on the clinical strategy and “making sure that we have a real clinical focus, and that the delivery around ageing well is something that meets what our London Clinical Networks need and want”.

She added: “We’re also looking at how we can improve the richness of the London Care Record, and strategically at whether we need to do any consolidation or improvement work for the London Care Record. We also need to consider how we can better support areas like mental health or maternity care, and support organisations like London Ambulance who span all of London.”

In terms of work around the Mental Health Act, Joss talked about the past year seeing the first go-lives in North East London mental health trusts, closely followed by other London trusts.

Joss finished by saying that “it’s great to be a part of the OneLondon collaboration, there is so much exciting and positive work that we are doing, and I really love working with colleagues from across London’s ICSs!”

We’d like to thank Joss for taking the time to share the work of OneLondon with us.