The NHS Confederation and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have published a report Partnering with purpose: How integrated care systems and industry can work better together1, alongside a library of more than 100 case studies of successful partnerships2.
The report was compiled following a series of webinars involving 60 NHS leaders representing 13 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). In total, 80 senior NHS and industry leaders attended.
Effective NHS-industry partnerships can be held back by persistent practical and cultural barriers, and these must be overcome if such partnerships are to deliver their full positive potential.
Practical barriers included structural variations in different integrated care systems (ICSs) and companies, and an associated lack of clarity on the ‘point of entry’ for both NHS and industry organisations seeking to build effective partnerships.
Cultural barriers included a degree of mistrust and anxiety in the NHS around working with industry, which can discourage innovation and new practices.
NHS and industry leaders agreed that the benefits of partnerships were significant, including better patient outcomes, reduced operational pressures and more preventative care.
The report shows there is a real opportunity for ICSs to stimulate new partnerships as a result of their convening power to bring together ‘anchor institutions’ such as NHS organisations, councils, community groups and industry.
These partnerships can improve local population health, tackle health inequalities, and boost local economies.
NHS Confederation has an ongoing programme of health economic partnerships and is supporting ICSs to develop and implement anchor approaches and impactful industry partnerships3.
As a result of the masterclass series and report, the NHS Confederation and the ABPI will bring NHS and industry leaders together next year to develop practical guidance for partnerships. This will help optimise pathways of care and improve patient outcomes and NHS efficiency.
Another priority for action was for ICS leaders to use evidence of successful partnerships as demonstrated in the ABPI’s library of case studies to stimulate further cross-sector collaboration4.
Sarah Walter, Director of the ICS Network at the NHS Confederation said: “In the NHS we are experiencing some of the most severe pressures we’ve ever faced in 75 years and cross-sector partnerships can help in a variety of ways. This includes bringing in additional capacity and introducing different skills and areas of expertise.
“However, there are further opportunities to capitalise on industry expertise in helping to solve local challenges alongside the NHS, and we want to support this.
“If we can realise the full potential of partnership working, we have a major opportunity to benefit patients, the NHS and communities across the country.”
Brian Duggan, Strategic Partnerships Director at the ABPI said: “The ABPI’s case study library published today has more than 100 examples of positive partnerships between the NHS and industry. These projects have made a real difference to patients or helped NHS organisations save time and valuable resources.
“People who work in companies are committed to improving patient outcomes, helping the NHS and tackling health inequalities. As an industry we want to support ICSs, help build capacity across the system, and be equal partners in solving the health challenges we face as a nation.”
View the full library of case studies.
1 NHS Confederation/the ABPI, Partnering with purpose: How integrated care systems and industry can work better together, November 2023. The report summarises four masterclasses on partnerships with industry and NHS leaders.
2 The ABPI, case studies of NHS/industry partnerships, November 2023, https://www.abpi.org.uk/partnerships/working-with-the-nhs/nhs-partnership-case-studies-library-key-aims/
3 NHS Confederation, Health Economic Partnerships, accessed October 2023, https://www.nhsconfed.org/topic/health-economic-partnerships