George Eliot – preparing for OBC approval

George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust has presented an Outline Business Plan (OBC) to the Department of Health, seeking approval for its plans to secure a new strategic partner through open competition. While approvals are being sought, preparation is underway to produce the papers and create the systems necessary to begin the procurement process. These include the Memorandum of Information (MOI), Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and wider evaluation criteria.

George Eliot presents its OBC

The Chair and Chief Executive of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust presented the Outline Business Case (OBC) to its public board meeting on 30 May, detailing why a new strategic partner is being sought, and the steps taken to date. The OBC also included its procurement plans, which will enable both NHS and independent sector healthcare providers to make proposals for working in partnership with the Trust. 

The Office of Government Commerce undertook a Gateway Review earlier this month, looking at the rigour of the process, and said: “The Securing a Sustainable Future project is now well underway under a regime of strong leadership, structured governance and project management. The project … has clear objectives and milestones. All stakeholders are supportive of the project and recognise that now is the time to address the difficulties that the George Elliot Hospital faces. All of these attributes place the project in a strong position to move forwards in a positive manner”. So congratulations to all involved.

Working towards an OBC with George Eliot hospital

George Eliot Hospital

Like many other smaller district general hospitals, the George Eliot is unlikely to meet the required Foundation Trust criteria on its own so, last autumn, with SPT support, the hospital’s management began to assess how it might best ensure that patients continue to receive the full range of high quality services they require.

They are reaching Outline Business Case (OBC) stage now, and the report will include feedback from the hospital’s considerable soft market testing and stakeholder engagement. This will include feedback from:

  • informal dialogue meetings with potential partners on 13 & 20 February, and 22 March
  • regular meetings of the Stakeholder and Quality Assurance Group
  • a stakeholder briefing session held on 14 March
  • a staff and public survey, which has so far attracted almost 300 responses.

George Eliot hospital talks to potential partners

On 24 February, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust announced the organisations it is talking to as it develops plans to secure a sustainable future.

Like many other smaller district general hospitals, the George Eliot is unlikely to meet the required Foundation Trust criteria on its own so, last autumn, with SPT support, the hospital’s management began to assess how it might best ensure that patients continue to receive the full range of high quality services they require.

As part of this planning process, the hospital has asked potential interested parties to meet informally to discuss future organisational models. During this ‘soft marketing’ exercise, activity has included two initial dialogue sessions on 13 and 20 February, a stakeholder briefing session on 14 March and a second dialogue session with participating organisations on 22 March. A stakeholder feedback briefing session is scheduled for 3 April.

Information gleaned from these events, and a range of other sources, will be compiled by the Project Team. A review and assessment of this will then inform finalisation of the Outline Business Case.

Public encouraged to help shape George Eliot hospital’s future

They are pleased to be supporting George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust as it searches for a partner to help it reach Foundation Trust (FT) status. As part of that process, which is still in its exploratory phase, the public is being encouraged to get involved in shaping George Eliot’s future by feeding in their own thoughts and ideas.

Under Department of Health regulations, all hospitals are encouraged to attain FT status by April 2014 but, like many other smaller hospitals, George Eliot is unlikely to meet the required criteria on its own. So, in the autumn, the hospital’s management began discussions about how it might best ensure that patients continue to receive the full range of high quality services they require.

Kevin McGee, Chief Executive of the George Eliot, said: “We have worked hard in the last few months to identify what sort of partner we might want for our hospital. But we want to make sure that we reflect people’s wishes as we move forward. I am openly and genuinely inviting everyone to get in touch and feed in their ideas and suggestions”.

The hospital wants to know, for example, “what are the three most important things to you about the services provided at the hospital?” and “what do you think is the most important quality a prospective partner should have?”

George Eliot Hospital options shortlist

The SPT has been working with George Eliot Hospital (GEH) in Nuneaton as it identifies potential strategies for securing a sustainable future. Having devised and debated a long list of options, a short list was presented to a public board meeting on 30 November. 

The short list of options is:

  • Join another NHS trust of a similar size to create a joint organisation
  • Join a specialist NHS trust looking to broaden its range of services or strengthen its balance sheet
  • Become part of a bigger organisation, probably a regional centre
  • Vertically integrate to create a single organisation across a health economy, primary, secondary and social / continuing care and mental health
  • Join a super chain of several hospitals, possibly geographically spread, with similar values, systems and common senior management
  • Form a partnership with an independent sector health organisation. 

Strategic solutions with George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust

At its public meeting on 29 September, George Eliot Hospital’s (GEH) board announced that the Trust is starting a process to develop options to help it identify a strategic partner. The aim is to provide clinical and financial sustainability for the hospital, as well as high quality, accessible services in the long term. Since then, the Hospital Management Team (including senior clinicians) has been meeting to lay the groundwork for this project. They met on 10 and 17 October to look at Trust objectives and the essential success factors required to achieve those objectives. A third meeting, on 1 November, examined a long list of possible organisational structures for the future.

Who the George Eliot might partner with will be considered during the next stage of the project, in the New Year. We are delighted to be supporting GEH with this process.

A Quality Assurance Group (QAG) has been established, with responsibility for overview and scrutiny of the project, providing assurance that it will ultimately deliver an acceptable solution. The group is made up of key stakeholders including staff and patient representatives, trade unions and clinicians, amongst others. The first meeting was held on 7 November, and agendas and minutes will be available on GEH’s website.

Identifying solutions with George Eliot Hospital

There is a growing recognition nationally that some smaller Trusts may not achieve Foundation Trust (FT) status as standalone organisations. George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust is one of several in the UK which has asked them to help explore options for achieving FT status, possibly in partnership, and is considering working together with other NHS Trusts, social enterprises, the voluntary and independent sectors, even education, such as universities. The project is part of GEH’s strategic review, and a wave of engagement activities is due to be announced shortly.