Collaborative development of new resources for networks

Georgina Hamill

Hello my name is Georgina, the programme facilitator for the networks team, Sustainable Improvement Team, NHS England. Our team have developed a range of system wide network leadership support offers aimed at building capability and improve the effectiveness of networks across health and care. One of our approaches is to develop the Source4Networks platform. This platform is the result of a number of years of joint working with network leaders across health and care sectors.

Collaborative development of new resources for networks 

In April 2014, we convened a national think tank in collaboration with The Health Foundation to explore the role of networks in health and health care improvement and consider what kind of support could be provided to foster their use. Around forty academics, thought/network leaders from across health, social care and the voluntary sector attended the event in London. The energy in the room for this agenda was tremendous, with much robust debate re the “value add” and how to lead networks for impact.

The most valuable output of the day was consensus in the room regarding what needed to be done at a national level to support networks and their leaders to successfully drive forward improvement. The insights and recommendations informed the framework required, with the Source4Networks platform at the heart of our offer. Subsequent events and stakeholder engagement activities have built on our original offer to ensure we’re continuing to meet the needs of network leaders across health and care sectors.

What have network leaders told us?

They told us that it’s important to disseminate what is already known about networks and share learning at many different levels of organisations about the potential value of using a network approach to organising. Case studies which illustrate best practice were seen as essential resources from a range of sectors for the new platform.

The Health Foundation’s Organising to Connect Programme made significant progress in 2012 and there was a demand to make these resources accessible – both the evidence base and the diagnostic tools to help existing networks to grow and improve.

Network leaders want to be able to connect with other networks to learn and share together. Many leaders have stressed that the most important role for NHS England in networks is to generate the conditions within which networks can flourish on their own terms.

What has this meant for the Networks team?

Based on these insights the Networks team have stepped up to address a previous gap in the system by providing network leadership diagnostics, intelligence, research and by growing a comprehensive community of practice. The team aims to ensure that networks for health and care are best placed to meet their goals and ambitions.

We commissioned the development of a Network Toolkit and Network Leadership Programme in 2015 to help maximise the impact of networks and strengthen network leadership capability. There was a lot of learning from these two programmes and network leaders have recommended a number of changes that would make the resource impactful. We have used this feedback along with our focus groups and advisory groups to develop the new Source4Networks platform.

We are confident that the platform contains all the right ingredients to meet the needs of network leaders across health and care and we will continue to grow and improve this resource in line with feedback from our users. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hope the platform supports you in your network leadership role.