By Suzanne Hamilton, Head of Improvement and Development with CLIC

Healthy systems evolve and adapt as their context changes. 

The impact of the Covid pandemic on health and care has been enormous, and will be felt for some time to come. It has not only highlighted the inequalities in the communities we serve and the inter-dependence of health and social care, but it has shone a light on the dedication, value-base and flexibility of our staff in the public sector, and on the willingness of our communities to be involved and support each other. We have demonstrated our capacity to adapt incredibly quickly under less than ideal circumstances - enhancing our use of technology, reorganising services to add more value and strengthening our relationships across the health and care system. 

However, we know that our focus on Covid has built up pressure on all our systems, both clinical and social and our citizens have unmet needs. We can expect a flood of demand just at a time when we know that we will be hit by traditional winter pressures. There is a danger... trying to meet this demand in traditional ways will fail. We need to harness our learning and enable those clinicians and managers who stepped up to meet extraordinary demands during Covid to lead our response and redesign of the system. 

Our integrated care communities are ideally placed to build on our learning and create new partnerships with our communities and third sector and co-design the improvements they wish to make. In Maryport and Cockermouth Community, representatives and service leaders are coming together to learn from their Covid experience and address some of the health and care issues facing the community ahead of winter. The project, which has been funded by NHS England as part of a regional leadership development offer, brings together a number of stakeholders to work with Martin Fischer as part of a partnership programme running between September and November this year. Martin, who has worked previously with the Kings Fund and led the design and delivery of national leadership programmes, now works independently to support system development and share his expertise in change and leadership based on complex adaptive social systems.

Evaluation of the programme will be completed by January 2021.