Practicus has been building a community of some 800 change professionals and is offering its ‘Ask the Community’ service free of cost to facilitate the NHS in making informed decisions.

When transformation leader, Liz Eckert found herself on a year-long assignment at a West Country Clinical Commissioning Group, she encountered a specific challenge she needed help with.

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“I was doing a piece of work around urgent treatment centres and how many you might need for a population that has previously been served by a combination of primary care, walk-in centres and A&E,” Liz explained.

It wasn’t a problem she could just punch into Google and get an immediate answer to, nor was there anyone in her network that had solved this challenge before.

“I needed to go out to as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, and find out as much as I could. My objective was to see if anyone had any way of putting together a model of what the true need of urgent emergency care is alongside primary care, rather than just the consumption of services.”

“This wasn’t a problem you could just put out to tender as a piece of consultancy.”

“Over the years, I’d hired a lot of interims within the NHS through Practicus who specialise in change management and, as a brand I trust, I asked their advice.”

What followed was an introduction to a free service called “Ask the Community”.

“By going out to the Practicus community,” explains Liz, “I was able to access a huge range of people with a huge range of backgrounds and a huge range of skill sets, and Practicus pulled together a really good, nice concise report that I was then able to use as evidence to reassure those people that I was working for, that we were on the right lines, we were doing the right things and we hadn’t missed anything.”

For the last 16 years, Practicus has been building a community of some 800 change professionals within healthcare and as chief executive, Darren Tolhurst explains, the concept is very simple.

“How often do you hear the phrase, ‘hindisght is a wonderful thing’? It’s usually used by someone looking back on a decision that didn’t work out the way they wanted it to. You can’t go back in time to make a different decision…but you can access the hindsight of others to make a more informed one in the first place.

“Ask the community is a service we offer free of charge to the NHS, to do just that, enable those with specific problems or challenges to make more informed decisions on how to solve them. In effect we’re making the independent hindsight of the community, the foresight of those who use the service.”

“The expertise within our community cuts across strategy, ops efficiency, data, behaviour and culture, and digital/technology. Questions have been coming in thick and fast and cover everything from a head of technology for an NHS client asking how to get better insights from data using specific business intelligence tools, to the CEO of a healthcare organisation wanting to understand how best to evaluate and represent the true cost of providing services.”

So what benefits did Liz Eckert derive from using “Ask the Community” to inform the decision making process?

“You could see how involved the people we accessed had been in trying to do a similar piece of work, that was really helpful. You could tell from the responses through the report that people were coming at it from slightly different perspectives, which was fantastic because we were able to put it all together into something that was quite holistic.”

“Hindsight is one of the most valuable things, especially when you’re looking at transformation programmes. Having that access to the depth of community, the depth of experience, the depth of knowledge, within such a tight timeframe was really valuable.”

See her full thoughts in this short video:

NHS staff who use the Practicus service can do so in complete confidence, though like Liz, you can choose to share the insights gained for the benefit of others. After all, those within the Practicus community who provide their independent counsel and hindsight, do so in the knowledge that they themselves will need the service when they encounter intractable issues of their own.

To access the “Ask the Community” service free of charge, please call the Head of Service, Lawrence Hill on 01491 637485 or contact us through: