Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit

Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit applies customer service approach to enhance safety and quality using Datix

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I Stock 000020059371 Large

Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit (SLCSU) is one of the largest in the country

Serving seventeen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across Staffordshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire.

By offering a wealth of professional advice covering all aspects of NHS commissioning and everything from communications, HR, IT to financial and contracting expertise, the unit helps CCGs deliver the best possible, affordable patient care.

With a clear vision and set of values, SLCSU supports its CCG and NHS England customers and who serve a population of 3.5 million.

Applying a customer service approach to NHS commissioning

Today’s NHS structure gives CCGs and NHS England commissioners greater choice and control over which providers, such as hospitals, dentists and opticians, they use to treat patients. Patient feedback is now playing a far greater role in commissioning decisions and the re-design of healthcare services.

When Lesley Goodburn, Head of communications and engagement at SLCSU, first joined the NHS four years ago, capturing patient feedback in a measured, consistent way was a major challenge.  Lesley Goodburn explains, “Patients do not experience single treatments all patients travel through a journey of care. People were saying there were lots of issues in different places coming from various sources, but no-one was putting all the evidence together, making it almost impossible to take effective corrective action and improve overall levels of care.  The time had come to take a more business-like approach and introduce a retail industry style customer relationship management model that would help NHS commissioners and providers respond directly to patient needs.”

Technology holds the key to putting patients first

The number one priority was changing services to the patient’s point of view, rather than the provider’s.  In a region that spans traditionally prosperous areas as well as more deprived towns, SLCSU set up a 2,500-strong Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) membership scheme, supported by strategic patient groups at each of the CCGs, to represent the views of all parts of the region and establish exactly what patients wanted from their local health service. This is known as SLCSU’s Model of Insight and Involvement project.

SLCSU reviewed its technology infrastructure to see how it could gather the information it received in complaints letters and contacts to patient advice and liaison (PALS).  The objective was to amalgamate it with input from the membership scheme and identify a series of themes and trends that could be traced back to specific service providers.

The organisation had been using Datix to manage incidents and complaints. When the new CCGs were established, it took the decision to invest further in the solution and purchased the latest web-based technology to create a comprehensive picture of patient feedback via the real time patient experience dashboards.

Lesley Goodburn continued, “We were impressed by Datix’s track record in delivering proven technology solutions to over 75% of the UK’s National Health Service.  The superior integration capabilities provided by Datix bring together all adverse event reporting, claims management and complaints handling data into one, simple to use platform.  From the outset, we had confidence in the people at Datix and knew we could trust them to ensure the patient and public voice would be heard more clearly in commissioning, service decision-making and monitoring across the region.”

Innovative Patient Experience software leads the way

Monthly review meetings with patients assess the top themes and trends and this means that patients are actually challenging what is happening in these areas. All this information, as well as details from patient complaint letters, are stored by SLCSU in the Datix Patient Experience module.  Data is placed under headings that allow comparison against national data and also relate to the five patient experience domains:

  • Safe high quality care
  • Building better relationships
  • Better information with more choice
  • Access and waiting
  • Clean, comfortable place to be

This provides SLCSU with a comprehensive monitoring service and the ability to pinpoint areas where service improvements are needed.  Over time, the Datix deployment has expanded to support nine CCGs – Cannock, East Staffordshire, Herefordshire, North Staffordshire, South East Staffordshire and Seisdon, Stafford and Surrounds, Stoke on Trent, Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire CCG.

Widespread adoption encourages innovation

In the early 2013 Stoke on Trent CCG evolved the Datix system to measure the clinical effectiveness of service providers.  GPs and Practice Managers at Stoke on Trent’s 54 GP surgeries feed in patient experiences from comments cards and GPs input any clinical concerns they have, based on the treatment received by their patients in hospitals, into the Datix system.  This application of Datix is proving popular with other GP practices. Telford and Shropshire is taking the lead with a phased roll out planned across all 17 CCGs in the near future. Work is also underway using the incidents module where 130 practices are entering a wealth of safety related data which is analysed using the domains of patient experience, and bought together with the clinical effectiveness and patient experience data to give a true quality system and analysis.

"Datix is critical to supporting our Model of Insight and involvement project."   Lesley Goodburn, Head of communications and engagement at SLCSU

Widespread adoption of the Datix solution is encouraging innovation that will ultimately improve the overall customer and patient experience.  SLCSU includes intelligence from letters to Members of Parliament (MPs), the local media and even posts from social media networking sites. This is then allocated to the five patient experience domains and used to create real time dashboards for senior management.

Award-winning project revolutionises healthcare commissioning

According to Lesley Goodburn, “Datix is critical to supporting our Model of Insight and involvement project.  It provides us with quality and safety information that continuously improves the performance of our providers by giving them the real-time data they need to review and alter services in a responsible and patient-centred way.”

The success of SLCSU’s Model of Insight project is reflected in the prestigious external recognition it has received.

  • Patient Experience Network National Awards 2011 – Finalist in the measuring, reporting and acting category
  • Crème de la Crème Business Award 2011  - Winner of the Outstanding achievement in business practice
  • HSJ Efficiency Award 2012 – Finalist in the Efficiency in admin and clerical processes
  • EHI Awards  2012 – Winner of the most promising IT to support clinical commissioning
  • January 2013 - Patient Experience Network National Awards 2012 –Runner Up  in the measuring, reporting and acting category
  • March 2013 – Patient Safety Awards 2013 – Finalist Data and information management

Big benefits all round

When information is fed into Datix, the software automatically assigns and follows-up on specific items to ensure actions are taken.  Each CCG inputs its own data, but Datix quickly analyses and collates the siloed information, picking up trends and highlighting special areas for improvement, even down to recurring incidents on individual hospital wards.

Currently, SLCSU uses the Datix Incidents, Complaints, Patient Experience and Dashboards modules and will shortly deploy Datix Hotspots to identify areas where increased levels of incidents may be a cause for concern and be automatically alerted when a certain threshold is breached over a given timeframe.

So successful is the Datix deployment at SLCSU that other external organisations such as Healthwatch, mental health support groups and several local authorities are now keen to share information and feed their intelligence into Datix.  Next on the horizon is potentially working in strategic partnership with other CSUs in the country to develop this innovative application on a regional basis.

About Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit

Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit (SLCSU) is one of the largest in the country offering the best professional advice to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to support improved commissioning decisions that will lead to better patient care in a manner which is affordable.

With a clear vision and set of values we support customers across a wide range of geographical and diverse areas in Staffordshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire.  Collectively the population that we are supporting is 3.5 million with our customers holding a total budget of £780 million. It is ultimately our staff that will make the difference and we have brought together specialist teams who collectively work together sharing their experience and skills focusing on finding solutions for our customers.

An integral part of our partnership and supporting role is to help the NHS in local areas to deliver on the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme. We will work with our customers to create more sophisticated commissioning for transformation enabling them to commission integrated care where there is focus on prevention, using the right mix of both community and acute services.

At the same time we are building a culture of business excellence which will allow us to grow and pass on our knowledge to our customers and respond to their evolving needs.

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