Arden & GEM CSU outlines the importance of managing the transfer of complex services
The launch of the Lead Provider Framework (LPF) in February 2015 prompted more changes in the commissioning support industry and paved the way for private sector companies to enter the market. Just over a year on, we are starting to see the impact of the new bidding process as clinical commissioning groups (CCG) take the opportunity to review their suppliers and award new contracts.
One thing common to all LPF contracts, win or lose, is mobilisation – the transitionary period in which commissioners move from one provider to another – which is fast becoming a skill in its own right. Patients should not be concerned with who is providing which service – a successful transition is one that goes largely unnoticed, at least during the handover period before service improvements can be implemented. But being unnoticeable requires considerable expertise and effort when transferring complex, integrated services.
Beyond traditional project and programme management, mobilisation requires a unique set of skills, together with broad shoulders to meet the particular challenge of liaising with the incoming or outgoing supplier. Throughout the transition, client needs must be met and the risks of handover proactively managed. This is something we’ve tackled head-on at Arden & Greater East Midlands (GEM) CSU, creating a senior level post responsible for all mobilisation projects, with a strong focus on understanding CCG pressures.
With direct experience of both taking on a large number of new services and handing over some elements of previous contracts, we are developing a clear view of the characteristics and systems required for successful mobilisation. Having successfully completed the mobilisation of one of the largest contracts awarded through the LPF, we have developed a detailed 12-week transition model that can be tailored for future projects. Underpinning this model is a need for openness, regular communication and a willingness to go the extra mile.
One thing is clear. In this brave new world of changing suppliers, CCGs don’t want to get bogged down in the detail of tackling issues during the transition period. They are looking to their suppliers to present solutions and give confidence that services will be transferred on time with minimal disruption to patients.
Embedding within our own organisations the skills required to manage these large scale mobilisation projects is crucial if we are to ensure the transfer of complex services is handled safely, accurately and on time.
By Jeannie Ablett, executive director of mobilisation, NHS Arden & GEM commissioning support unit