Organisational change: NHS Employers

Children's services in the NHS have been the focus of a 10-month change programme resulting in improvements for patients and staff.

Trusts taking part in the programme have shown that they can make more effective use of staff time, speed up waits and increase access to care by making changes to the way they deliver services.

The programme is run by the large-scale workforce change team, part of NHS Employers.

Forty-two trusts took part, including East Yorkshire primary care trust and Yorkshire Wolds and Coast PCT, which reduced the waiting time for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) from 26 weeks to two.

By changing the way they arrange their caseloads and introducing brief intervention techniques, health visiting teams were able give more help to families with more complex needs earlier on. As part of the new way of working, the PCTs have run four parenting classes and have treated more children in a behaviour clinic instead of referring them to CAMHS.

Another participant, North Hampshire Hospitals trust, introduced two support workers. One is allocated to a special school one day a week, freeing the nurse to give counselling and support to parents during school hours and to support the paediatric consultant in a neuro-disability clinic.

The other runs an orthotic clinic, freeing up a physiotherapist to focus on assessing and reviewing children. Both have the potential to develop into assistant practitioner roles, thereby helping staff development.

Ian Pritchard is director of the Improving Children's Services Programme at NHS Employers.