Dr Sam Everington, the former British Medical Association (BMA) deputy chairman and leading figure behind the celebrated Bromley-by-Bow integrated health and community centre, came to Solihull recently at the invitation of Solihull Together for Better Lives leaders, to talk to GPs, Practice Managers and Nurses.
Photo (from left to right): Dr Anand Chitnis (Chair of Solihull CCG), Dr Sam Everington, Helen Kelly (Head of ICASS), Dr Patrick Brooke (Accountable Officer, Solihull CCG)
Dr Everington told the audience that they have much more power than they might realise. 'I've never known so much interest in primary care," he explained. "Politicians from all parties are listening to us and are eager to hear about what primary care can do."
Tower Hamlets, where Sam is Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), is one of 14 integrated care pioneer areas, and has attracted a great deal of attention from policy experts.
The award-winning Bromley-by-Bow Centre is now one of three practices in a partnership, itself federated with a fourth practice in one of eight federations operating across the borough.
Explaining his philosophy of integration and holistic care, Sam said clinicians should acknowledge that they are probably only responsible for 15-20% of healthcare, with 'social determinants of health' often more important than medical factors.
So the Bromley-by-Bow Centre brings together 100 different projects, from benefits and employment advice to arts and gardening therapy, and offers access to 1,100 community organisations, to which GPs can refer patients.
Dr Everington believes primary care can use integration not only to emerge from the funding and workload crisis and improve care for patients, but as an opportunity to do things differently and improve communities.
He encouraged the audience at the Renewal Conference Centre to 'put people at the centre of everything you do and build the clinical case for change around them'. Sam also challenged them to consider how to move care out of hospitals and into primary care, suggesting that primary care could save more lives at a fraction of the cost.
Sam's challenge to Solihull CCG was to create more leadership positions and give GPs greater opportunities to develop as leaders. "In Tower Hamlets we ask 'What is your passion and how can we support that?" explained Sam. "Leadership is the factor that really determines success."
Wrapping up his talk, Sam told the audience that he believed Solihull is 'a place of great opportunities' and he urged them to "demand the best and make it happen."
After the main event Sam met with a group of health and care professionals to discuss the way forward for Solihull. Here are reactions from some of the people who took part:
"Too often in the NHS we are confronted with complaints, barriers and negativity. Sam Everington highlighted the possibilities for something better – based not on theory and idealism, but on years of grit, determination and achievement. His challenge to us as professionals is to put behind us the current ways of working, because we are neither satisfied working this way, nor are our patients getting the best experience or care. Putting our communities and what they need at the forefront of our vision is how we move into this world of new possibilities."
Dr Anand J Chitnis, Chair and Clinical Lead, NHS Solihull CCG
"I really enjoyed hearing how Tower Hamlets are shaping services around their patients. Following the talk, I hope we can regain momentum for a strong GP Provider Arm. We must push for equal standing with the Acute and Mental Health trusts to give us a voice and improve our patients' healthcare."
Dr Bilal Patel, Lead Undergraduate and Postgraduate Trainer, The Jacey Practice
"Sam's inspiring presentation highlighted what can be achieved by collaborative working. Several of the practice nurses are planning to visit Tower Hamlets to see how these innovative ideas could be developed locally."
Kirsty Millard, Practice Nurse Hampton in Arden Surgery and Solihull CCG Practice Nurse Development Lead
"My role is about developing early help for children, young people and families in Solihull. The discussions with Sam gave me a real opportunity to explore how community development has grown in Tower Hamlets and how we have a real opportunity here in Solihull to join together across agencies, breakdown silo working and collaboratively improve outcomes for residents."
Tina McGrath, Interim Assistant Director, Early Help, Solihull Council
"We need to adopt and follow the remarkable advances that Sam and his colleagues have made in Tower Hamlets, but we need people with forethought in Solihull to take this forward and push it even further. Perhaps the next step is to have a meeting between key colleagues in Solihull and Tower Hamlets to push the boundaries of what can be achieved within the NHS over the coming years."
Dr Andrew Waddell, GP Partner Park Surgery