Lisa King, who has recently taken on the role of Bristol Health Partners Chief Operating Officer, on the challenges and rewards of working in partnership in the complex world of health and care.
My professional and private lives collided in an interesting and unexpected way the other weekend. I bumped into John Kellas, who works with Bristol Health Partners as an innovation and engagement consultant, at a music festival. This chance encounter made me wonder whether our shared love of frantic drum n bass has equipped us both for the fast-paced professional world we have found ourselves in… Little did we realise that our youthful enthusiasm for pumping dance music would equip us to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of health and care!
I know this is a cliché, but I can’t quite believe it’s been five years since I settled in Bristol and began my journey with Bristol Health Partners. Having spent most of my career supporting research at the interface between industry and academia, I admit my knowledge of the NHS and health and care more generally was fairly limited.
It was a steep learning curve. I quickly realised, if I was to make the role a success, I would need to draw on the skills I had developed in previous roles and apply them to the complex world of commissioners, providers, academia, local authorities, third sector and public contributors. Anyone who works in the sector knows how complex it is, and what a challenge getting to grips with it can be.
But it’s been a fascinating and, at times, challenging journey. Back in 2013 Bristol Health Partners was much smaller: just me, Mary Perkins as Chief Operating Officer and Peter Mathieson as Director (alongside his day job of Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at Bristol University!).
Building our fantastic core team has certainly been one of the highlights for me. Working with such dedicated, capable and passionate people, and watching them grow, has been inspirational.
I also feel very lucky to have had some fantastic mentors along the way, including David Relph and Andrea Young. I have learnt a great deal, particularly from David, who sadly left the partnership in April. His infectious optimism and enthusiasm knew no bounds. He was able to create a vision of what we can achieve together, if we collaborate and draw on the incredible range of skills and expertise that we have here in our amazing city region. He will be sorely missed!
In 2013, the first batch of just eight Health Integration Teams (HITs) were up and running. Today we have 19 amazing teams working together to address sticky system-level problems to secure the future health and wellbeing of our citizens. I am confident that the evolution of our pioneering HIT model will continue, extending beyond specific diseases and pathways into complex areas that cut across all parts of the system. With HITs like SHINE and APPHLE, we’re already proving that the HIT model can add value in prevention and the wider determinants of health.
At times, the scale of the mountain we need to climb together seems insurmountable. But being part of this network of inspirational people who are daily trying, and succeeding, in making a difference to people’s lives has been incredibly fulfilling. I feel proud and privileged to have played my small part in the Bristol Health Partners story so far. I’m very excited to work with the Executive Group and David Wynick to develop the partnership over the next few years in my new role as Chief Operating Officer.