In March 2016, the board of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust made a decision to explore becoming a full member of the Royal Free London (RFL) group. This is recorded in the Trust’s board meeting papers for March 2016 (p185-190). Since that decision was made, we have continued to work through various aspects of what full membership would involve.
In August 2017, we reaffirmed our commitment to the principle of joining the RFL group, and in September 2017, we announced that NorthMid would become the first clinical partner of the RFL group. As a clinical partner, we work closely with the Royal Free London and we are already participating (or have well-developed plans to participate in) some of the key improvement programmes which RFL is implementing. These include clinical practice groups, and adopting approaches such the quality improvement (QI) methodology that the RFL group is already implementing to improve patient safety.
As a Trust, we are clear that ‘standing still’ is not an option – we must respond to the changing needs of our local population, and work with the health system across north central London to meet local and national expectations on quality, safety and value for money. It would not be viable for NorthMid not to do this alone, but it is also vital that we demonstrate all the various aspects of partnership have been properly considered before any changes take place.
In April 2018, we committed to developing a ‘case for change’, which sets out the evidence and thinking on the best way forward. We are fully committed to ensuring we develop this case for change with all appropriate stakeholders, including patients and the local community. The Trust board will then make a full and final decision on the question of progressing to develop closer links with the RFL group.
To be clear, we are absolute committed to ensuring we engage closely with stakeholders, the public, and patients, and listen carefully to views and ideas and ensure these are factored into the development of the case for change. We will not make any final decision without proper engagement with our stakeholders.