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Partnership agreements

An SLA defines the clinical services the specialty provider and the host trust will provide.  In the NHS SLAs are often used for clinical services between host trusts and partners.

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Most of the trusts we spoke to had issues agreeing or enforcing SLAs, particularly if they were complex.

Partnership agreement image

Problems can arise when key people and organisational knowledge is lost. Some had issues because it was not clear whether the host or the specialty provider owned the development of the SLA if their partnership involved two-way shared services.

An agreement should include:

  • the business objectives to be achieved in the provision of the services.
  • the service deliverables.
  • clear descriptions of who is responsible for which parts of the service.
  • the performance standards the host provider expects from the specialty provider.
  • a reporting mechanism for measuring the expected performance standards.
  • mechanisms for remedy/compensation where standards are not achieved.
  • a mechanism for review at set intervals or if one party requests it.

Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust has developed an innovative approach known as the Dartford Health Partnership. The model seeks to establish a process for review and standardisation of each of its key partnership SLAs. The first stage has prioritised 34 agreements across 11 partner organisations accounting for 80% of the value of all SLAs.

The trust has a clear process to achieve success and will be sharing its progress in the toolkit in the coming year. In the first instance the trust has made available its draft model SLA and process diagram.