Bulletin no. 10 10 June 2014

Ways to Wellness – a new approach to long term conditions in Newcastle

Welcome to the tenth Bulletin for the Ways to Wellness Project. The Bulletin assumes that readers are already familiar with the Ways to Wellness Project, so if you are not already aware of our work then please refer to the FAQs and the first nine Bulletins, which tell the story so far.

Recent Highlights

First Meeting of the Ways to Wellness Ltd Board – this took place in May and felt like quite a milestone in the development of the project.

Contract Metrics Summit Meeting – we held a meeting with all the key partners in attendance (including CCG, Cabinet Office, Big Lottery and Social Investors) to get to grips with the contract metrics challenges. It was great to have all key partners meeting for the first time and understanding each other’s needs/wishes and to get a clear understanding of key steps and timelines. There was a genuine wish to make this work from all concerned. We reached agreement that there would be two contract metrics based on the Wellbeing star and on a matched cohort of patients looking at their secondary care usage. Having representation from NECS (North of England Commissioning Support Unit), outlining the baseline data and tracking data that they can access to support the secondary care metric was very helpful.

Briefing Event for Local VCS organisations– organised for us by Newcastle CVS, we had over 40 organisations attend this briefing event, interested to know more about Ways to Wellness and how we link into the wider Voluntary and Community Sector. It was very refreshing to get out from the world of contract metrics discussions to speak to real people working in Newcastle West who are genuinely interested to see this work for the benefit of the local population. There were really sensible, informed and useful questions about the proposed service and a lot of positive feedback from participants.

On-going development work since 1 April

Ways to Wellness Chief Executive Recruitment – this is underway and, following a huge amount of interest, we have just shortlisted and plan to interview at the end of June.

Long Term Evaluation of Ways to Wellness – we have had useful meetings with Newcastle University Business School to work up an outline for the long term evaluation of Ways to Wellness. All we need to do now is secure a large amount of funding to support this! To this end we have had useful discussions with the Cabinet Office about potential evaluation funding and we are pursuing a number of options. We also need to look at how to ensure independence of the evaluation.

Ways to Wellness Governance and Legal Structure – we have been working with our solicitors and with our potential social investors, Bridges Ventures, to discuss the most appropriate legal structure for Ways to Wellness Ltd going forward.

Procurement for Social Prescribing Providers – we have finished the PQQ (pre-qualifying questionnaire) stage and have invited a number of organisations to tender, with the closing date for applications this week. In order to ensure a fair and transparent procurement process we have engaged Rocket Science to support us with procurement. We also chose the interview panel carefully from the Ways to Wellness Board to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest.

Management Information Systems – we have contracted with Vital Service to work on the MIS for Ways to Wellness. Vital Service are basically ensuring that we will have an MIS system that enables all the computers in the GP surgeries, social prescribing provider organisations and Ways to Wellness to speak to each other, gather and process all the data we need and meet all NHS Information Governance and patient confidentiality needs (Vital Service phrase this slightly more technically than I do!).

Supporting Grant Applications – we have submitted grant applications to NESTA and to Newcastle Healthcare Charity to support specific elements of the model that we think would greatly strengthen our service for patients going forwards. This includes additional training for link workers and also peer to peer mentoring/volunteering.

Ongoing work to refine the Financial Model – as we develop the service we are constantly updating the financial model when new information comes to light and to take on board feedback from the key stakeholders. We are currently on version 12.3 of the financial model.

Ongoing discussions with potential social investors – we continue to have discussions with potential social investors and have had encouraging first meetings with Social and Sustainable Capital who are considering investing in Ways to Wellness.

Contracting Arrangements – we continue to work with Muckles solicitors to work up the draft contracts for Way to Wellness Ltd to use with the social prescribing providers, as well as those that need to be in place with the CCG and with Social Investors. Although Ways to Wellness is not an NHS body we need to ensure that we meet the relevant NHS requirements.

Ways to Wellness Value Case – has been produced by Social Finance on our behalf and has been helpful to give us the information we need to further demonstrate the potential cost savings of the service, not just to the CCG but to wider society. This has been particularly helpful in providing information to support the Stage 2 application to Commissioning Better Outcomes and the Social Outcomes Fund.

Recent Challenges

Defining the contract metrics - we are making real headway with this, but it remains the main challenge for the project. We have had several useful meetings and discussions with the CCG, Nuffield, Newcastle Director of Public Health, NECS and others. The complexities and the time spent on this are huge, especially for the secondary care metric. We now have real baseline data on patient secondary care usage and are able to demonstrate predicted savings to the CCG and to model the predicted returns to social investors. The metric for the Wellbeing Star is less complex and we have had useful discussions with practitioners, both locally and nationally, to help us to set targets and weightings for this contract metric.

Commissioning Better Outcomes and the Social Outcomes Fund Stage 2 Application – this took quite a lot of time and energy to complete, but we just managed to get it in in time in order to be considered at the July committee. Although practically the application was mostly completed by the Ways to Wellness team, it needed to be officially submitted by Newcastle West CCG, as the outcomes payments (if we are successful) will be paid through the CCG. We are grateful to all concerned, including colleagues at the CCG, Cabinet Office and Big Lottery for helping us to get this in on time, as if we had missed this deadline there is not another committee meeting until September, which would have caused serious financial pressures on Ways to Wellness.

Sandra King – Project Director, on behalf of the Ways to Wellness Ltd Steering Group.

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