Our Partnership with UCLH

While remaining separate organisations, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and Whittington Health are making a case for for closer collaboration between our two organisations in a board paper which will be considered by both organisation's boards this month (March 2024).
The collaboration aims to improve the quality, safety and experience of people and patients across a common local population in Haringey, Islington, and  Camden by improving services across the two trusts and supporting a population approach to health care. It also aims to reduce  costs to the health system by collaborating on the delivery of clinical services, changing pathways, rationalising support services  where mutually agreed and providing mutual aid.
Our aim is to work together where it makes sense clinically and operationally to benefit patients and staff.  We have agreed a joint mission and vision for this work:
Our vision is to use our collective strengths to deliver excellent patient care
UCLH and Whittington Health have had a number of clinical collaborations and partnerships, many of which have existed for a number of years, for example:
  • UCLH, Whittington Health, Great Ormond Street and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine work together to provide the south hub of the North Central London TB service at Whittington Hospital
  • The Whittington Health Virtual Ward takes referrals from across North Central London and has provided the UCLH Hospital@Home service for a number of years
  • UCLH provides professional support on complex colorectal cases and we have a shared multidisciplinary team for breast cancer
  • UCLH provide some of Whittington Health’s interventional radiology services
  • Whittington Health performs some caesarean sections for UCLH patients
  • We work in partnership on elective orthopaedics as the south hub of the NCL region
  • A Paediatric Dentistry Advice Clinic, run jointly between Whittington Health and UCLH NHS Foundation Trustwas shortlisted in this year’s HSJ awards in the category of "Modernising Diagnostics"
This positive collaborative approach strengthens services – for example, supporting each other to maintain specialities which have limited experienced staff or little medical cover out of hours – and is made easier as we already share a Chair and two non-executives.
These collaborations and the many other existing arrangements already bring benefits for our patients – essentially, the more experience, expertise and resource that we can draw upon, the better their care such as:
  • Working together to ensure senior medical advice out of hours may mean no need to transfer a patient who has developed complications over a weekend.
  • Our Virtual Ward/Hospital@Home services means that patients are seen by community staff who are experienced in working with hospital consultants and multi-disciplinary teams to help keep them at home and avoid going into hospital.
  • Providing care in partnership means that people can go to their local hospital for a service that either Whittington Health or UCLH are leaders in, knowing that the clinical team that cares for them works with and learns from the best in the region.
This collaboration will also bring benefits for our staff such as:
  • Access to broader learning and development opportunities
  • The potential to make their lives easier through tackling barriers to information sharing

We want to explore building on this existing partnership, but we are not looking to merge the organisations – our aim is working together clinically and in any other way which makes sense in order to provide the best possible care for patients.
Both Whittington Health and UCLH would bring benefits to the partnership. For example, UCLH has a wide range of specialist services, a larger staff base and greater involvement in research and clinical trials. Whittington Health has expertise in providing integrated care between hospital and community services and is known for providing excellent frailty care, a service which is increasingly important with an ageing population.
Importantly, we want to keep hold of what makes each of our organisations special as we look to benefit our local communities by working more closely together and bringing the best of both Trust’s skills, knowledge and experience to the table.

Focus Areas

Following initial scoping work, which included a significant amount of engagement with colleagues from across both Whittington Health and UCLH, the board have agreed eight focus areas for potential further collaboration (in no particular order):
  • Proactively collaborate across Trusts and with place-based partners to reduce inequalities and better meet the needs of the  local population
  • Leverage WH’s strength in community services to optimise acute hospital care including non-elective care pathways,  discharge processes and frailty care across both Trusts to reduce hospital-based care
  • Enable provision of the right care at the right place and right time by strengthening long-term condition pathways, enabling patients to self-manage, and reduce acute exacerbations
  • Improve resilience and clinical and financial sustainability of services offered by both Trusts
  • Maximise use of joint capacity by concentrating high volume elective activity in WH and more specialist activity at UCLH
  • Plan, implement and share learning on workforce to better support recruitment and retention of staff and address high staff  turnover rates
  • Expand UCLH research and trials to the population served predominantly by Whittington Health enabling access
  • Collaborate on non-clinical services to support efficiency and cost reduction

The next phase of work will involve prioritising these and turning these ambitions into concrete actions and deliverable goals.
Last updated12 Mar 2024
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