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Patients to reap benefits of better care from closer NHS working


Two Oxfordshire NHS trusts have signed up to work more closely together to improve patient care.

Patients of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (Oxford Health) and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) will get better care because of this partnership. Older patients are already seeing the benefits, with staff working together to care for more people in their own homes rather than in hospital, where possible, which is known to help patients recover more quickly.

Oxford Health Chief Executive Officer Dr Nick Broughton and OUH Chief Executive Officer Dr Bruno Holthof signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday 27 May 2022 to formalise the agreement which will also enable more joined-up care, make patients feel that they are being cared for by one NHS team, and provide better value for money.

The closer working will focus initially on urgent care in the home and community to ensure people:

  • get access to urgent care and support when they need it
  • receive more care at home or in their local community, avoiding unnecessary travel and hospital admissions
  • benefit from enhanced co-ordination of support for people living with long-term conditions including innovative care and digital technology
  • see improved personalisation and responsiveness of palliative and end-of-life care.

Dr Broughton said: "This helps strengthen the closer working relationship between our two organisations. It is good news for our patients and our staff. It means we'll be working as 'one team', breaking down organisational barriers in order to provide seamless care. Many of our services overlap, so it makes sense.

We're already seeing the benefits of this closer co-operation. Our community and hospital teams are working hard together to enable frail elderly patients to safely stay at home instead of going into hospital and helping get them home quicker when they’re being discharged from hospital. Working together as 'one team' will get care to patients more quickly, save them from having to repeat their stories and prevent duplication."

Speaking at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at Bicester Community Hospital, which provides care for people no longer requiring acute care, Dr Holthof added: "One of the next steps for the collaboration will be the further development of 'virtual wards', allowing patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently without going into hospital at all. Remote monitoring and consultations with specialist hospital clinicians will be combined with face-to-face community care to provide a complete package of care at home."

Although this agreement is between the two trusts, it forms part of a growing network of closer working relationships developing between health, social care and voluntary sector partners across the county. Oxford Health is already part of similar collaboratives focused on forensic mental health and children's mental health and dentistry amongst others.

Oxford University Hospitals is developing a provider collaborative with other acute hospitals in the Thames Valley region, building on the existing clinical networks in trauma, cardiac, neuro, neonatal, children's, maternity and cancer services among others.