West Yorkshire CEO shares six lessons from six years of collaboration

Julian Hartley, CEO for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and CEO Lead for West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT), has shared his ‘key lessons’ from six years of collaboration.

The CEO Lead penned six reflections on WYAAT, as it enters its sixth year of existence, as part of a blog for the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WYHCP).

Hartley writes that, ‘WYAAT works because the collaborative has always focused on what practical changes can be achieved together’ and ‘defines itself not by being an organisation, but by what the six member trusts do together and the decisions they make together’, with a focus on ‘function, not form’.

Examples of their collaborative efforts include: the Yorkshire Imaging Collaborative, which provides a ‘single clinical viewer’ for any clinician to view any patient image taken across the Yorkshire Imaging Collaborative; The West Yorkshire Vascular Service (WYVaS), which has ‘reconfigured vascular services to deliver a sustainable service model’; West Yorkshire Vaccination Programme and the response to COVID-19, including ‘mutual aid, personal protective equipment (PPE) logistics and shared capacity planning’.

Other learnings and outcomes shared in the blog post involved highlighting that, ‘changes are made by and with member trusts, not to and for’, and an emphasis on clinical leadership through regular meetings and having an appointed WYAAT Clinical Lead.

Hartley also advises that, ‘you cannot compel collaboration’ – stating that WYAAT decision making is ‘based on consensus’ and a ‘collaboration of the willing’ with participation in WYAAT programmes voluntary. This he adds, has led to securing over £40 million in capital investment, for programmes of work in areas like pathology, where they are currently ‘completing the implementation of a single laboratory information system (LIMS)’.

As well as looking back on the successes, Hartley also looks to the future, highlighting the importance of a joined-up approach from members. He explains how ‘shared experiences’ during the pandemic ‘stand us in good stead for the future’.

And finally, the CEO Lead concludes with a point on placing relationships above governance.

He writes: “In West Yorkshire we have placed a priority on leaders meeting together regularly. Chief Executives meet every month and there are equivalent groups for all executive colleagues. These relationships are longstanding and have been invested in for over five years. As a result, the acute sector in West Yorkshire has a set of leaders which recognise the future is less about direction and more about consensus, relationships, and influence…here’s to the next six years!”