| 24 March 2021
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (BTH) South Neighbourhood Primary Care Network (PCN) has been named Integrated Team of the Year, at the fifth Our Health Heroes Awards, for their collective commitment to improving healthcare in the most socially deprived town in England, Blackpool’s South Shore.
More than 300 NHS and Social Care staff came together virtually on March 23, with sector and government leaders for the ceremony, where Kay Dalton, Team Leader of the South Neighbourhood PCN, was presented with the award by Erika Bannerman, Managing Director of NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS).
Healthcare professionals submitted more than 600 nominations across nine award categories, including over 200 for this fiercely contested award alone. On announcing the winner, Erika said: “Now more than ever, we cannot think in an isolated way. Collaborative and integrated working is essential to ensure we are delivering the highest standard of healthcare, effectively and positively. At NHS SBS, our mission is to improve people’s lives by enabling the effective development and deployment of the workforce, and this year’s winners certainly embody this mission.”
Delivered with the help of our partners NHS Employers, UNISON, SFJ Awards and Bevan Brittan, the annual Our Health Heroes campaign shines a light on the extraordinary efforts of thousands of healthcare support staff who work hard behind the scenes to keep the system running. After a year in which the NHS faced its toughest ever challenges, the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown was an apt day to be recognising, reflecting, and celebrating the difference to people lives these unsung health heroes continue to make, day after day.
Peter Murphy, Director of Nursing, AHPs and Quality at BTH said: “We are delighted that the team has won such a prestigious award. This is a team with a wide range of skills and knowledge that has come together to ensure patients receive the best care possible and we are proud that they have been recognised for their wonderful efforts.’’
Health and social issues in Blackpool are acute, and innovative solutions are required to resolve the silo working which exists when departments are so busy. Step forward the South Neighbourhood PCN, a Multi-Disciplinary Health and Wellbeing Team (MDT) spearheaded by Kay Dalton, who meet weekly to discuss collaborative responses that are changing lives.
Kay said: “Our MDT brings together BTH community nurses, matrons, case managers, mental health and wellbeing staff, occupational and physiotherapists, with representatives from four local General Practices (GP’s), Blackpool Council Adult Social Care, Blackpool Community Groups, including the Carers Centre and a Lottery-funded social prescribing team, and most recently Blackpool Police.”
Taking a holistic approach, the MDT considers patients as a whole person, and in line with the NHS Long Term Plan, aim to improve patient services and engagement with community services, reduce pressure on acute services, and improve leadership by engaging more widely with staff. As complex patients’ cases are discussed, different perspectives and solutions are shared, and all team members voices are valued. As a result of this inclusivity, the team often see staff going the ‘extra mile’ for patients.
Kay said: “As a collaborative team, we work so hard to ensure the patients in our care receive the best holistic assessment we can provide. Each member of the MDT is given freedom to speak and we all contribute with our varied knowledge base, to ensure the patient is seen by the most appropriate professional.”
GPs and surgery staff discuss issues and concerns, the allocation of staff time and distribution of work, plus how to prioritise referrals. By working together, duplication is reduced, and communication is improved between departments. Blackpool Council Adult Social Care report that by being part of the MDT ensures their team can assist earlier to avoid a crisis within the home occurring. It also allows for a much more time and cost-effective way for information to be shared with health colleagues, without endless emails and working time being lost.
Alistair Clarke MBE, from Social Enterprise Solutions (UK) CIC said: “The MDT is a great example of all different departments working together and it achieves really positive results for people who have multiple issues in their lives to contend with. We discuss how best to support each individual and have all the resources of the NHS departments, social services, carers centre, police and many more, all having a say on the best course of action.”
COVID-19 presented new challenges for Blackpool services and patients. Daily meetings in the first lockdown, over the entire PCN, helped with staff shortages, identified priority patients, checked how everyone was coping, and ensured adequate PPE and stocks. Meanwhile, the social prescribing team were calling up to 500 vulnerable patients a week, with support and practical advice about challenges around shielding and shopping.
Alistair said: “Our team of social prescribing link workers specifically support people whose day-to-day issues are impacting on their physical and mental wellbeing, which we help them to address, this is welcomed by the NHS.”
Mid-lockdown, an older man, isolated and anxious, was telephoning his GP surgery multiple times daily. Once discussed at the MDT, the social prescribing team assigned a link worker to call the man, twice a day for several weeks, to help reduce his anxiety and he now only calls the surgery for medical issues.
Kay said: “The last year has shown that in complex difficult times an MDT approach to our patients needs enables us to continually deliver safe, effective, timely care to patients in their own homes. As a nurse I am extremely proud and very passionate about the care we give to patients in the community.”
The weekly patients’ MDT has been so successful, a second MDT has launched to discuss issues with people in care homes, as Blackpool has a higher than national rate of over 65s. The community nursing team in collaboration with the PCN is already helping to shape future services by researching planned versus unplanned care visits, to determine why some people require same-day treatment, what staff are involved, where the referrals come from and how they are triaged. This project will be evaluated by Lancaster University.
Police support officers are the most recent addition to the MDT, and the network hope their membership will broaden even further this year to include other community groups who can give short presentations about their work.
Kay said: “The commitment we have to our patients and the work we undertake in the MDT is mirrored daily, and we have forged excellent partnerships across all professions to ensure all aspects of the patients physical health, mental health, social care needs, wellbeing and safety are all met. Our biggest achievement has been the integration of health and social care and the holistic approach to care that’s been achieved and helped the community through these difficult times.”
John Rogers, our Chief Executive at Skills for Health, said: “The continuous and effective collaborative approach the South Neighbourhood PCN are taking to improve patient outcomes across their community demonstrates why they are such worthy winners of the Integrated Team of the Year title. This award is a testament to their hard work and commitment to delivering truly person-centred, integrated care across professional, organisational and sector boundaries, at such a crucial time.”