Reflections from Chief Operating Officer Lisa King

Lisa King, our Chief Operating Officer, looks back on the past year at Bristol Health Partners, including key achievements from our Health Integration Teams (HITs), growing the core team and expanding our using data better programme.

It’s been another fantastic year for Bristol Health Partners and we have achieved much to be proud of. It feels important to recognise those achievements now more than ever, in the face of the exceptional challenges that COVID-19 continues to present us with. I am proud and grateful to be part of a local health and care system that has demonstrated such agility and collaborative spirit in response to the pandemic.

The key highlight of this year is undoubtedly our successful designation as one of only eight Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs) in England. Our AHSC success is a result of the exceptional partnerships we have built and continue to develop. It is also clear that the extraordinary dedication, determination and inspirational work of our Health Integration Teams (HITs) was a significant factor in our success. Thanks to the vision and leadership shown by our new AHSC Director Professor David Wynick, we look forward to the next exciting stage of the Bristol Health Partners journey.

The last year has been one of true partnership working. Supporting communities in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) with the tools they need to play an active role in their health and wellbeing, has been a key focus for the Partnership and beyond.

Some of our HITs have played an integral role in creating or redesigning care pathways. Our Improving Sexual Health (SHIP) HIT developed a new care pathway based around a novel rapid STI testing service for the Unity Sexual Health Clinic in Bristol. Two of our HITs, Chronic Pain and Bristol Bones & Joints, worked together to redesign how we plan and deliver chronic pain services within the Healthier Together musculoskeletal services for the BNSSG area.

One of the factors that make Bristol Health Partners unique is our focus on supporting healthier lifestyles and the prevention of illness. Our Parkinson’s and other Movement Disorders HIT worked to embed voluntary sector support into clinics at the Bristol Brain centre and beyond through educating local exercise leaders about Parkinson’s. This meant enhanced support to people with Parkinson’s to live independent lives. Working closely with Active Ageing Bristol, our Active Older People HIT delivered a programme that helps older people increase their physical strength and mobility, through combined fitness and social activities.

Our collaborative work continued in the form of our strategic programme ‘using health and care data better’. Jointly with People in Health West of England we launched our digital health training programme for patient and public contributors. A first of its kind in the UK, the programme provides participants with the knowledge to enable them to engage effectively in debates and decisions around digital health technologies and how our health data is used. This programme has received national recognition and been adopted by colleagues in other regions of England. Many thanks to the design and delivery team and especially John Kellas and Andy Gibson for their work in developing and delivering this innovative programme. Supporting colleagues in their success in the South West Better Care Partnership has also been hugely rewarding, particularly seeing this partnership coming to such rapid fruition in response to COVID-19.

It was also a year of change as we said goodbye to Zoe Trinder-Widdess, Communications Manager at Bristol Health Partners for the last six years. We are incredibly grateful to Zoe for her expertise, enthusiasm and dedication to the Partnership. I would also like to say thank you to our Project Managers, Rhiannon Wilson and John Halliwell, for all the support they provided us and the HITs during their secondment last year.

But it was not just a year of farewells, we also welcomed two new members to the Bristol Health Partners team: Carla Southworth as Senior Project Manager and Sabrina Lee as our new Communications Manager. Both Carla and Sabrina bring a wealth of local NHS and commissioning experience and with their help, we have been able to expand the support we offer our HITs.

It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will change the way health and care are delivered, probably forever. The incredible, rapid, system-wide response has presented the opportunity to be truly transformational in the delivery of health and care across BNSSG. I am confident that our HITs and wider partnerships will seize this opportunity and use it to reshape the health and care system to deliver truly person-centred, equitable care.

I’m excited to see what we can achieve together, in the year ahead!