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Young multiracial doctor having fun with little girl on a wheelchair.

Our journey together joining up health and care

To mark our 5th anniversary Luke Readman, Director of Digital Transformation NHS London, reflects on our joint achievements over the last five years and our plans for the future (2 May 2023).

This month marks the 5th anniversary of OneLondon.

In May 2018 London’s then five health and care partnerships and London Ambulance Service came together to join up information to support fast, safe effective care. And so OneLondon was born.

Luke Readman

However our journey began much earlier in 2013 when some cancer and cardiac services moved between Barts Health and UCLH.

At the time I made a commitment to the relevant Boards that we would work together to develop a system for sharing patient records between them.

While this was the genesis of the OneLondon story the principles that guided our work back then still apply today:

  • thinking about the needs of patients across London rather than traditional organisational boundaries;
  • putting the views of Londoners centre stage, ensuring those views and needs are driving what we do; and
  • working together and collaborating across and beyond London

 

Why our work matters

 

Branwen

Let’s first remember why we are here. Over the years OneLondon has featured Branwen’s story.

Branwen first began to feel unwell in 2017 but it wasn’t until 18 months later that she finally received a confirmed diagnosis of lung cancer. 

In 2021 Branwen said:

“If the clinicians I was speaking to over the course of the 18 months, had access to ‘all of me’ – holistic, up-to-date, shared information about my medical history, previous appointments, and investigations. For me, it would have been life changing.”

“Such a late diagnosis meant that my treatment was much more extreme, there’s permanent damage to my body, and some things I’ll never recover from. At the age of 44 I had to get my head around the longer-term implications – I didn’t feel useful anymore.”

Our achievements

It is stories like Branwen’s that demonstrate why sharing information and joined up care are so important, and why the work of collaborative programmes like OneLondon is so vital.

And over the last five years we have achieved so much together as a collaborative and helped ensure other people in Branwen’s position got the joined-up care they needed.

There have been many highlights from the last five years but I am going to take the liberty of naming three of them.

Supporting frontline staff

From our early work a decade ago with Barts Health and UCLH, the creation of OneLondon through to today’s programme we have worked hard to ensure frontline staff have the information they need when they need it.

With so many health and care settings across London using so many different systems the challenges have been immense. But thanks to a combination of effective leadership across London, senior clinical involvement and fantastic technical expertise we were able to do it. And we did it together.

Pan-London sharing of patient information through the London Care Record began in 2020 with nine hospitals. This was then followed by GP surgeries and other settings and in late 2021 we joined up with our partners in Hertfordshire and West Essex and Milton Keynes due to the high patient flows with these neighbouring areas.  

With the London Care Record we now have a sustainable and extendable platform to securely share information across the whole of London and beyond. With over a million views each month it is making a difference to health and care and helping to save lives. This is phenomenal progress and something we can all be proud of.

Involving Londoners

From the outset we knew involving Londoners in our work was key. In 2020 we held the world’s largest public deliberation on the use of health and care data. It was a lively and productive event over several days involving 100 people reflective of the diverse population of London. Instead of making assumptions about what people thought this Citizens’ Summit helped us understand what people really thought and resulted in a set of public recommendations that continue to shape our work today.

At the end of the Summit I made a personal commitment to those attending and to all Londoners. This was to always ensure that we listen to people’s views as we take our work forward.

I am proud that this commitment has been honoured – and continues to be. OneLondon has held further public events with more planned in the coming months. And whether at a more local ICS level or with specific projects like introducing the Universal Care Plan public engagement remains at the heart of our work. It will continue to do so, as will our work to keep Londoners updated on the progress we make.

Getting the right people together

Every single day we are part of incredible collaboration between clinicians, academia, industry and specialists in a whole range of other areas. Together we are tackling some of the biggest health challenges that the Capital faces. .

The London Health Data Strategy Programme is the perfect example of this. It brings together the right people to help ensure we use pan-London data in a secure way, in line with public recommendations, to improve the way we plan our health and care services for the future, meet the needs of all of London’s communities and support research into new treatments.

We are already making huge progress, learning valuable lessons and crucially making a difference now. For example during last year’s Polio Booster Campaign when children in London needed an urgent additional dose of a polio vaccine our Immunisation Pathfinder Project was able to pivot their tools, analysis and learning to inform the region-wide response.

Through our Pathfinder Projects, new Improvement Projects and successful application for NHS England funding to develop a secure Data Environment for London to support vital research these are exciting times.

By continuing to involve a breadth of expertise, and continuing to involve the public, these will be a huge success and play a big part in improving health outcomes for Londoners for years to come.

The future

These are exciting times for our partnership. We have ambitious plans to go further over the coming years including expanding the London Care Record further, extending the Universal Care Plan to new care pathways and grasping the full potential that London’s health data has to offer – involving Londoners in everything we do.

We have learned a lot over the last five years. For me the biggest lesson is that we are stronger together as OneLondon and our original guiding principles still stand today. Thinking about the needs of patients across London, collaborating across London and putting the views of Londoners centre stage.

We have recently been in touch with Branwen again. While the last few years have been tough for her it’s very good news that she has just had her five year scan and is cancer free. Branwen very much hopes that the joined up thinking hoped for has come to fruition.

We have certainly come a long way together to make this wish a reality. Thanks to all of you for your incredible work to date. I look forward to continuing this important journey together over the years ahead.

Luke Readman, Director of Digital Transformation NHS London

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