King’s Health Partners institutes – improving the lives of five million people
Our Executive Director Prof Sir Robert Lechler writes about how King’s Health Partners institutes are benefiting our local population and beyond.
King’s Health Partners mission as an Academic Health Sciences Centre is to combine the collective strengths of our partner organisations (Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital, King’s College London and South London and Maudsley) to bring world-class research, education and clinical practice together for the benefit of patients.
By bringing staff together from across our organisations, we foster a culture where our clinicians teach, our researchers practise and our teachers research. This enables us to translate research findings into practice as quickly as possible, which ultimately benefits our patients who receive the best care, informed by the latest research.
The most significant step we have taken as a partnership to further this mission is the establishment of five clinical academic institutes in Cardiovascular, Women and Children’s Health, Neurosciences, Haematology, and Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology. Through the institutes we are encouraging even closer integrated ways of working to deliver real benefit to our patients. There is a huge amount we are already achieving by doing this- we have consolidated research in these clinical areas, created international education programmes, are joining up mental and physical healthcare, and in some cases, have begun to work operationally as One Team across our current organisational boundaries. Working as One Team is helping clinicians and academics to deliver services in an integrated way and to share resources, skills and information so that we can translate research into the best patient care even faster and in a more sustainable way.
This is an exciting journey which has the potential to impact the lives of people in our local communities, and a wider population of five million across south east England.
We acknowledge that we are doing this at a time of unprecedented health and financial challenge. But believe it is more important now than ever before that we work in partnership to continue to deliver innovation, supported by the latest research and education, resulting in better outcomes and experience for our patients in a more sustainable model of care.
Progressing plans with our outstanding staff
We are always looking for ways we can challenge ourselves to do more for our patients and service users, and to attract the best talent to work with us. The areas of focus for our institutes were chosen because of both our significant combined strength in them, but also based on the specific health needs and challenges of our population.
These areas also complement and support the delivery of partner’s strategies including clinical service development, financial sustainability and academic excellence.
Our plans have been driven and progressed by our outstanding staff who are committed to achieving the best for our patients. As these plans continue to develop, the institutes will be led by their expertise, shaped by the needs of our patients, population, and delivered in partnership.
One of the areas I have seen the most impact is in how the institutes are helping us to join up mental and physical healthcare across our organisations.
Our Mind & Body programme is working with all our institute teams to better join up mental and physical healthcare, training and research to improve health outcomes for everyone. We now screen patients for anxiety and depression in 16 physical health outpatient clinics across our institutes, with a further 13 in development. Integrating mental and physical healthcare services in this way has the potential to vastly improve the care that patients receive and has significant benefits to our organisations and workforce.
Individually the institutes have all progressed and delivered impact relating to their individual priorities. There is no one size fits all approach to developing and progressing these institutes. Each one is informed by clinical and academic collaboration about how best to deliver patient care and related research, all focused on delivering the best outcomes for patients.
To showcase just some of the outstanding work the institutes have achieved so far, I encourage you to read more about,
- cardiovascular teams reducing waiting times for patients in need of surgery and improving patient survival rates, carrying out world first surgeries, and developing a revolutionary new blood test for detecting heart attack that could speed up diagnosis and save the NHS millions of pounds
- how haematology staff are working as one team to improve the way we care for people with blood diseases, supporting patients with their mental health, and how clinical academics are using novel therapies to deliver world first treatments for our patients
- in neurosciences, we are consolidating our research to tackle the complexity of the nervous system and the vast array of conditions and disorders that can affect it. Combining the second largest academic neurosciences department within the UK with clinical services recognised to be of the highest standard, we are delivering treatment and care that is informed by the latest world-leading clinical research
- we are leading the way in diabetes care, contributing to the first-ever national guidance on type 1 diabetes and disordered eating, testing a new model for whole-person treatment for type 1 diabetes, using new technology and data to give us a clearer picture of the scale of the needs of local people across Lambeth and Southwark, all while exploring new ways to reverse type 2 diabetes with pioneering new surgical procedures
- improving health outcomes in childhood, and on into adulthood, requires a different approach, one that recognises and address the link between women and children’s health. We are uniquely placed to explore these links by combining the clinical-academic strengths across our partnership in these areas to improve outcomes in our local area, nationally and internationally.
Strong foundations to future strength
The institutes give us the opportunity to shape the future of our clinical academic offer together.
They are about all of us, involve all of us and are crucial to the transformation of health, care, education and research locally and globally.
What we are building on is the outstanding work that staff across our organisations do every single day which has led to the recognition that by working more closely together we can achieve even more together, especially if we focus our initial efforts in these key areas.
The institutes are and will continue to be designed by and with our staff, through their ideas, support, encouragement and trust. This benefits not only our patients and population, but also our staff themselves, and the wider health and education system we work in. Over the coming months we will engage further with staff on what being part of an institute will mean and the benefits it will bring to us and to our patients.