In the early days, there really wasn’t much of a focus on co-design and improving experience of care – let alone on measuring outcomes related to people’s lives. We wanted to explore innovations in commissioning and care delivery, and develop new tools and ways of working that would make it easy to practice and plan at scale in a person-centred way.
We started by working with commissioners to help them make change in partnership with the people who use services and the staff delivering care. We called the approach we developed Experience Led Commissioning.
Over 10 years, we co-designed commissioning strategies literally thousands of people, families and clinical teams. Through those co-design conversations, we heard time and again, and quickly understood that the one to one appointments happening in clinic rooms across the NHS were not giving people the help and support they needed to take control of their health issues and change their lives.
It was tough, working to change the NHS commissioning model, and we realised that we could have a greater impact by working at grass roots to drive change in the way clinicians consult and work with people in their clinics – especially when they are supporting people who live with long term health issues.
That is why, in 2015, we switched our focus towards building capability within the NHS workforce to deliver face to face group consultations.
In the early days, many people doubted that patients would accept this as an alternative to one to one appointments, and the pioneering work we did with Slough Clinical Commissioning Group as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund in 2015/16 showed that the idea was both feasible and acceptable to patients and clinic teams. From this early success, we built, tested and iteratively improved a comprehensive practice development package. Up to March 2020, we had trained over 700 GP teams across England.
When the pandemic hit, face to face group consultations were no longer safe. We had already agreed to pilot a virtual model in 2020 with NHS England and Improvement. By March, it was clear that video group clinics (VGCs) could prove vital to supporting primary care to stay connected with its patients during Lockdown.
Over the ensuing 10 months, we worked in partnership with Redmoor Health and accelerated the video group clinic (VGC) programme, training over 700 teams by October 2020. This work won two HSJ Partnership Awards in recognition of the massive progress we had made, developing this innovative digital way of working in a very short time.