The era of collaboration needed to make STPs work rests on a new breed of leader, says Beccy Fenton
KPMG in the UK’s experience of global healthcare transformation clearly demonstrates that collaboration plays a vital role if health and care systems are going to develop a sustainable future and meet the triple aim: improving health, providing better care and reducing costs.
But leaders will have to put their local population’s needs before their organisation’s needs to be truly collaborative, and to achieve this we need a new type of leader.
In our most recent research Take Me to Your Leader, we talked to 25 senior healthcare executives, the majority of whom felt that the future lies in collaboration, not competition. And they are keen for collaboration to be a foundation stone of their sustainability and transformation plans.
As one of our interviewees said: “I would go so far as to say that system leadership skills will be the single most critical factor in determining the success of the STPs.”
One factor stood out among all others, however: leadership. Our interviewees acknowledged that to truly achieve collaboration, there is the need for a new breed of leadership, one that works for the needs of the population and not the needs of the individual organisation. Many interviewees also felt that there are too few good leaders in today’s NHS, thanks to the risk-averse culture in the NHS.
They know that a new approach to leadership skills is vital. As one of our interviewees said: “I would go so far as to say that system leadership skills will be the single most critical factor in determining the success of the STPs.”
This requires investment in systemic leadership skills. New leaders will need to be able to show that they can be held to account for systemic transformation. They will need to work together to design integrated services that create innovative workforce solutions that meet patient – not organisational – needs.
Vital piece of the puzzle
Other factors are at play, too. Elsewhere in the report we discuss other issues such as payment reforms to align financial incentives and create conditions for the right behaviours; and the role that mergers and acquisitions still have to play in the future of the NHS.
These points are all crucial for collaboration to thrive. But we must remember that collaboration is a step towards the end goal: of achieving the triple aim of STPs. Our hypothesis, which we have been working on with a number of STPs, is that to deal with all the symptoms that health and social care systems are facing, they must consider four main drivers and pull on four related levers for change – what are these four things?
Collaboration is a vital piece in this puzzle. We believe that our report’s findings can help point the direction for health organisations wanting to put collaboration, not competition, at the heart of their STPs to ensure their ultimate success.
Read our report Take Me to Your Leader here.
Beccy Fenton is a partner at Healthcare KPMG in the UK. Email her here.