Fit for my Future – A Healthier Somerset.

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Developing a whole-system strategy in Somerset

A major strategic review is currently underway across Somerset to look at the most efficient use of their existing health and care system and to address other significant sustainability challenges in the county.  SCW’s Systems Transformation team has been working with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (Somerset CCG) and Somerset County Council (Somerset CC) since February 2018 to deliver a system wide strategy and to make proposals for change.

Somerset’s health and care services are provided by Taunton & Somerset and Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trusts, with hospitals in Taunton and Yeovil, both of which are rated within the top 20 in the country.  Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust provides community and mental health services at thirteen community hospitals. There are eighty one GP Surgeries in the county and social care services provided by Somerset CC.  As a county, Somerset does have a specific set of challenges to tackle, in particular an older population spread across its rural geography.  It also faces recruitment and retention difficulties across a range of professional disciplines. With significant financial and workforce sustainability issues to overcome, organisations in Somerset agreed that in order to meet the challenges they face, the different parts of their health and care system needed to work better and more closely together in order to provide a more efficient and effective solution for their local population.  To assist with this, Somerset CCG appointed SCW together with Attain Consulting to undertake the review of health and care provision in the county.

The initial appraisals started in February 2018 with a full assessment of health and care provision in the county.  SCW fielded a multi-disciplinary team including project and programme managers from System Transformation, analysts from Business Intelligence, financial modelling resources and communications experts. This team developed the ‘Case for Change’ which led to a series of proposals for significant service change.  The proposals looked at current and future healthcare provision in the county and made recommendations about changes that would address sustainability issues as well as improving quality, equity of access and delivery of national standards like 7 day working.  Those proposals are now (December 2018) in the process of being further developed, working towards a full public consultation with people in Somerset in late 2019.

Geoff Underwood, SCW’s Programme Director for the Somerset health & care strategy work described the project: “We have a long history of working with Somerset and as a result, have an in-depth understanding of the county and the particular challenges it faces. From our initial appraisals we have created the ‘Case for Change’ which has led us to recommend a series of proposals to make significant improvements.  It looks at the existing situation and challenges, sets out why the county health system needs to change and makes our recommendations for future improvements.  It has been a great opportunity for us to deploy a lot of the expert skills we have at SCW to support Somerset with planning their future requirements – particularly in project, programme and stakeholder management, analytics and communications.” 

Early communications of the plan have already begun. The campaign, supported by all the health and care organisations, has been developed under the banner ‘Fit for my Future – A healthier Somerset’ and includes a new, informative web site https://www.fitformyfuture.org.uk, which gives background information on why the changes are needed, what the outline proposals and objectives are and helpful information on adopting a healthier lifestyle.

SCW has been pleased to be able to work with  Somerset as it undertakes this extensive transformation project, delivering a wide range of support including project and programme management, expert guidance on public consultation, business analytics and GIS mapping, forecasting and modelling including capacity and financial modelling, clinical and pathway modelling for the future service offering and patient requirements analysis.  Geoff Underwood concludes: “This is a major piece of work for us at SCW and it has been a great opportunity for us to work with Somerset on a whole range of problems that we have the knowledge and experience to help them with. There is still a long way to go with the work but we are committed to supporting our partners in the NHS for the long-term.”