We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

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

How resourcing a secondment increased partnership working and improved community health outcomes

This page is free to all
This case study is part of a series looking at the role of voluntary organisations in health and social care system transformation. It was kindly supplied by Louise McDade of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton Community and Voluntary Services.


NHS England has established 44 sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) areas. These are the geographic areas covering all of England that are tasked with bringing health and social care services together to work more efficiently and effectively. NCVO followed nine of these areas during 2018/19 that were funded by NHS England to build stronger partnerships with their voluntary sector and work out how the voluntary sector can be much more engaged strategically.

By following nine of these partnerships, NCVO identified five ‘core components’ that ensured that the partnerships with the voluntary sector were robust, sustainable and effective. One of these was investment and resources. 

The issues we faced

Integrated commissioning and the drive towards Person Centred and Community Approaches (PCCA) nationally, from Greater Manchester and within Bolton, led the Integrated Community Services Division at NHS Bolton Foundation Trust to look differently at how it connects to the voluntary sector in Bolton. It was acknowledged that better partnership working would require resourcing. 

The actions we took

The Policy and Engagement Manager at Bolton Community and Voluntary Services (Bolton CVS) undertook a one year, two day per week, secondment role, as ‘Voluntary Services Development Lead’ to focus on strengthening these connections and encouraging different ways of working. 

The secondee developed a programme of work to enhance working relationships between the voluntary sector and the foundation trust, including:

  • a scoping exercise to review current practice, gaps and next steps
  • a staff survey including two focus groups and 1-to-1 interviews with senior staff
  • a baseline report indicating areas of good practice, barriers to connectivity and recommendations for next steps
  • a blog and articles shared via the trust newsletter, Bolton CVS website etc.
  • awareness raising sessions for NHS teams about voluntary sector activities
  • training in topics such as social prescribing and co-design
  • voluntary sector representation and attendance at various planning and service consultation groups and strategic trust meetings
  • supporting local community engagement and social networking events
  • support for the development of Bolton’s lived experience panel and delivery of training to panel members
  • input into redesign programmes, including neurology rehabilitation, neighbourhood working and intermediate tier.

Positive outcomes

  • Increased awareness and understanding of the voluntary sector offer.
  • Increased opportunities for the sector to inform the design and delivery of services.
  • Increased opportunities for joint working, including Bolton CVS presence at multi-disciplinary teams as part of the new neighbourhood model.
  • Increased referrals from the foundation trust to the Community Asset Navigator programme.
  • Increased involvement of voluntary sector in small aspects of service delivery.
  • Increased services to patients to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.
  • Resourcing of a new Community Asset Navigator post.
  • Opportunity to work collaboratively with the Ambition for Ageing programme and secure additional service delivery funds.

Negative outcomes

  • It is difficult to measure the outcomes of this programme in a way that is valued and recognised; new ways of working will take time to embed. It must be recognised that outcomes will be measured differently than a clinical approach.
  • It is also difficult to sustain this way of working in the longer term and to financially sustain this at the point of moving from transformation to business as usual. 
  • Although great strides have been made in a short timescale, there is still some way to go to support the statutory and voluntary sector workforces to work more closely together and to develop flexibility within processes to allow this to happen.

Lessons learnt

  • Effective partnership work facilitated by the secondee fostered a new relationship between Bolton CVS and the foundation trust, and supported a more integrated approach to health and social care in Bolton.
  • Developing new ways of working and new behaviours takes time: key to its success is good communication and development of positive relationships which build the foundations to create change.

Further information


Page last edited Oct 22, 2019

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.