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Building effective partnerships with the NHS

NHS market-based reform introduced 15 years ago has stimulated a growth of independent sector involvement in the delivery of NHS services.

Historically the NHS has turned to the independent sector when it has needed additional capacity, whether for elective surgery, diagnostics or support services. However, over the last 20 years there has been a policy shift towards building relationships that move away from short-term capacity overflow agreements to longer-term arrangements.

Given this shift, we recently convened a roundtable of key stakeholders to discuss how private providers could collaborate and overcome barriers to partnering with the NHS. The focus was on what it would take to achieve effective partnerships and such partnerships are evolving to meet the changing needs of the NHS.

New ways of working are integral

A number of attendees said that so far, of the partnerships that exist already, there are only a few genuine strategic relationships between private providers and the NHS.

Delegates spoke about how best to overcome these barriers citing the different commercial structures behind the arrangements, the historic short-term nature of the agreements and ensuring independent and outside providers work collaboratively with the NHS.

They debated the characteristics of successful partnerships. For example, ensuring that both parties align to a common goal, a focus on transparency, investigating joint venture-type arrangements, leveraging the NHS brand and choosing the best kind of services for collaboration.

The panel also discussed opportunities such as how the independent sector can support the NHS brand, using data to ensure increased quality of service and reducing unwarranted variations in service delivery and practice.

Peter Jennings, director of corporate finance at Grant Thornton insisted that both the independent providers and the NHS needed to look to the future in order to collaborate successfully: “There is a real opportunity to learn from past experience and to build more positive and long term partnerships going forward. We need to be mindful that there are some real barriers that can make relationships both difficult to implement and to sustain.”

For more information download A healthy relationship: how can organisations effectively partner with the NHS 

To discuss the summary or included case studies in more detail, or to explore opportunities with us please contact Peter Jennings.