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Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How input of resources accelerated achievement of the goals of our partnership

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This case study is part of a series looking at the role of voluntary organisations in health and social care system transformation and focuses on the importance of resourcing the work of partnership development. It was kindly supplied by Soo Nevison, chief executive of Community Action Bradford and District (CABaD).


The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is one of the most complex integrated care system (ICS) areas; not the largest population, but our footprint covers six districts and involves multiple acute, mental health and ambulance trusts, over 50 primary care networks, soon to be six CCGs (mergers in progress) and thousands of voluntary organisations.  The ICS serves 2.6 million citizens with an annual budget of £5bn.

We have a strong history of leadership, building relationships and establishing shared values and principles for joint working both at local (district) levels and at the ‘system’ (ICS) level. And we believe that services should be planned and delivered at the geographical level where it most makes sense due to considerations such as cost, efficacy and patient safety.

We were selected to take part in NHS England and NHS Improvement’s VCSE accelerator programme in 2018/19, and this enabled us to accelerate the voluntary sector’s role in achieving the goals of the integrated care system.

The issues we faced

Long-term sustainability of the NHS requires a shift of resources from acute and secondary care into prevention and encouraging individuals towards self-care.  However, turning this into reality is a challenge for ICS areas. As a sector, we needed to evidence how investment in prevention could support the longer-term goals of the integrated care system partners.

The actions we took

The emerging ICS secured NHS transformation funding of £8.75m. Within that, the ‘Harnessing Power of Communities’ workstream secured £1M to evidence the impact of voluntary sector  prevention activity.  This was split on a ‘per capita’ basis across our six districts to deliver programmes suited to each district. 

Voluntary organisations in each district designed their own programmes around a set of criteria including loneliness, reducing demand on hospitals and system change. These include: an event (PDF 840 KB) to showcase voluntary sector engagement in the NHS Long-Term Plan in Bradford and a befriending project.

Positive outcomes

  1. Good cross-sector partnerships developed at district level.
  2. In most of the districts the work was led by the voluntary sector.
  3. In all districts the voluntary sector contributed to delivery of outcomes.
  4. Learning and best practice were shared across the whole ICS system.
  5. We produced evidence that investing in community activity reduces pressure on NHS and local authority services.
  6. The success of this investment led to further investment, including Building Health Partnerships, an NHS England leadership programme, a further £0.9m of NHS transformation funding for 2019/20, three successful Health Education England workforce projects and investment in a programme team to support the workstream (c.£70k).

Negative outcomes

We discovered one large negative that we have turned into a positive:

  • Through the transformation funding 2018/19 and the NHS England / NHS Improvement ‘VSCE accelerator programme’ we discovered that not all districts had the same level of capacity in their infrastructure organisations (those that support other charities) to provide leadership and build engagement. This was often caused by funding cuts to those organisations, and the need to focus on core work locally. 
  • External funding enabled us to develop a theory of change to improve infrastructure support for the sector; this will bring investment into the work of coordinating and building voluntary sector engagement and representation, which in turn will strengthen the frontline service delivery.  

We also refined the funding allocations because we found that a straight ‘per capita’ split disadvantaged rural areas. 

Lessons learnt

  1. This work takes time: It took over three years of voluntary sector engagement in the programme to get where we are. 
  2. Input of resources at different levels (to the ICS and to local districts) was invaluable in accelerating our ability to develop prevention work and evidence its impact.

Further resources


Page last edited Oct 22, 2019

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