On Thursday 2 May we met formally as a Board, with a packed agenda covering how Tower Hamlets Together fits into the broader North East London context, how we measure and monitor our performance and how we strengthen community participation and voice. I’m delighted that we also approved our vision, mission and priorities as a partnership. This has been many months in development, so thanks to all who have contributed in workstreams, locality committees and elsewhere. Click Here to see how we plan to achieve our mission: to transform people's health and lives in Tower Hamlets, reducing inequalities and reorganising services to match people's needs.
First up, we reviewed our system performance dashboard - our tool to oversee what’s happening across services and take action as needed where the picture looks concerning. Our aim as a Board is that this doesn’t duplicate other datasets and reporting systems, but is a dashboard of key metrics aligned to our priorities, so we have a collective view across the range of services we are striving to integrate. Areas we need to strengthen are adding metrics to reflect adult social care and children’s services, ensuring we have a meaningful narrative to explain trends, and factoring in cross-borough impacts where appropriate. We’re almost at a stage to share this with local health and well-being committees to use on their place-based meetings too, which is a huge step forward.
We heard from colleagues from the North East London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) and Inner North East London System Transformation Board (INEL). There’s lots in play at a London level with the new NHS London bringing together NHS Improvement and NHS England, and the Mayor of London’s focus on health and inequalities. At STP level, they are keen to produce a plan which knits together borough and INEL plans, rather than being top down, recognising most change needs to be driven at borough or locality network level. INEL priorities across the patch are outpatients, urgent care, rough sleeping and homelessness, and provider collaboration. The focus for the STP from now to September is the NHS Long Term Plan submission, which needs to match LTP themes to local priorities. The Board stressed there should be a stronger place-based narrative, including explicit reference to local delivery and opportunities to integrate with broader services e.g. housing, and any plans for public or frontline consultation should be more accessible and focussed on what matters most to our community and staff.
We had a brilliant, passionate discussion about community participation and voice, the crux of which was summed up by one member as “our connection with reality”. We all want to keep people at the heart of our decisions and to strengthen how we do this in practice, which may mean a radical rethink! We heard about good practice happening in different partners and at workstream level, which we can build on. The Board had previously agreed to recruit two lay members to the Board - suggested with some other actions by a recent co-production workshop - and we debated how best to take this forward and reshape our Board meetings so they are accessible, inclusive and meaningful. As a first step, we will be inviting workstream members with lived experience to shadow our Board meetings and help us review what actions we need to take. The appetite for doing things differently is there, but we need to co-develop a sensible plan with short and longer term ambitions, so we do it properly.
Finally, we covered some of the issues that came out of last month’s Board workshop. We will be asking the enabler groups (on issues like communications, workforce etc) to mirror the workstreams in setting their own priorities and proposing solutions to the gaps identified by the Board. We also agreed that dedicated resource is needed to take our partnership to the next level and truly make a step change in how we work. We’ll be bringing back a proposal to the next Board which maps the current resource that partners are contributing, identifies the gaps and makes concrete proposals for next steps.
All in all, some good discussion and some concrete progress made - with lots more to do, as ever!