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Huddling together to stay warm – the importance of collaborative working

Isaac Newton once said: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” I applied to the Greater Essex Collaborative programme as I genuinely believed, and still do, that if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. With a strong emphasis on ensuring every penny counts while maintaining high standard of quality, there has never been a more important time for public service organisations and their partners to work collaboratively.

For me, the Greater Essex Leadership Collaborative was a fantastic opportunity to forge new relationships with colleagues from different organisational sectors within Essex that I had not come across before.  In my role as Head of Communications and Public Engagement for North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, it gave me a wider understanding of other people’s experiences – colleagues, service users and residents – further supported by the shared insight from the leading academics who gave our group some fascinating perspectives of their own during the masterclasses. Insights from Keith Grint, Matthew Taylor and Margaret Heffernan certainly helped me to work more effectively with other colleagues to shape and target high profile public engagement activities that related to proposed service changes.

I belonged to a project group known as the Visionaries, comprised of colleagues from Southend Borough Council, other parts of the NHS and Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford.  Together we looked at one of the most difficult challenges facing the county, the issue of recruiting GPs in local primary care services.  Each of us took a lead in exploring or speaking to experts, local leaders and people across this field. Throughout the programme, we had regular access to a chief sponsor and a facilitator who held action learning sets which allowed us to discuss and reflect our ongoing findings.  Our findings, interviews and observations were included in a short film that we presented and shared with colleagues and leaders during the celebration event which took place at the end of the programme.

We are in an era of sharing; working outside of traditional organisational boundaries will become the new norm, and the best way of satisfying people’s needs and expectations.  From the engagement activities (the Big Care Debate and Urgent Care Review) carried out by the CCG, local people have told us that services need to collaborate and ‘talk to each other.’  In the health sector, patients do not want or expect to be repeating their story over and over again to different health professionals.  As the former boss of Apple, Steve Jobs put it: “Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people."  And with the pressure on the public purse and resource, coupled with a growing county wide population, there has never been a more important time for effective collaboration to happen.

Simon Morgan

Now Head of Communications and Public Engagement for Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP)

page updated 21/02/18