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Why single specialty networked care?

Choosing a networked care model

We asked our executive colleagues in what circumstances they might consider a networked care partnership

Everyone described the most common scenario as being triggered by a (usually medical) staffing shortage. For example, a DGH may not be able to recruit or retain the consultant medical staff it needed. It would be likely to try to cope for as long as possible until a crisis was reached when help would be sought from a specialty provider. Decisions and solutions might then be needed quickly.

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Other drivers were listed including:

  • financial losses.
  • not meeting service standards.
  • critical mass – outcomes and volumes were linked.
  • capital investment costs.
  • access to tertiary care.

But most people said that staffing was usually the main driver.

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Mary Masih, nurse matron at Moorfields Bedford, talks about the experience of being a member of staff before and after the network was established.

While some single specialty providers like Moorfields and the Walton Centre have developed a networked care model, some other specialty providers have opted not to do so for various reasons, preferring instead to provide advice and support to the hospital to try to improve the service themselves.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is in the process of formalising specialist networked care with Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust at Darent Valley Hospital (DVH), as part of the development of the two trusts’ foundation healthcare group model. DVH is a good example of a local district general hospital where the single specialty networked care model is already part of local service sustainability.

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Susan Acott, chief executive officer, and Rachel Otley, head of planning and partnerships, talked to us about their networked care experience.

We are not suggesting that the single specialty networked care model is a fit for all circumstances; organisations need to weigh up the best sustainability solution for them. What we know is that we have a duty to ensure the very best safe and effective care for patients and that support from specialty providers for some more niche services may be the only way to do this sustainably.

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