Case Studies

Helping a strategic health authority deliver better education programmes

Added 23/09/2010


In line with other parts of the NHS, strategic health authorities (SHAs) were facing increasing pressure to increase productivity while reducing costs. The multi-professional deanery, which provides non-medical training for the region, was identified as one area where improvements could be made.
Sustain was commissioned to help the deanery to enhance its performance so that it could deliver projects with greater focus and pace. The deanery would also be required to work more closely with the local education consortia to develop new and innovative methods of training to help providers meet the challenges of the national Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) initiative.
Coupled with this was a need to identify and deliver significant cost improvement savings from the deanery’s £30m training budget.
Key challenges
It became clear that the deanery had no consistent approach to scoping, developing and delivering its projects and no robust performance management system was in place. This meant that many projects slipped beyond the predicted completion date, while there was little clarity around the benefits which each project had delivered.
We also realised that some members of the senior team would require additional support to increase their focus on delivery while working more closely together to minimise duplication and confusion.
In addition and despite the significant value and number of educational contracts managed by the team, the framework and information required for robust contract management had not been put in place.

Main actions

Working closely with senior staff, we developed a detailed improvement programme which included:

  • development of internal assurance process and a workstream structure
  • specific support to help the senior management team prioritise its current projects
  • the introduction of robust and effective performance and project management systems and processes
  • a review of existing contract management arrangements and recommendations for their improvement 
In order to maximise the impact of these improvements, Sustain provided specific training to staff to equip them with the necessary skills to deliver effective project and performance management. Individuals, workstreams and the senior team were also given direct mentoring support, both on a group and one-to-one basis.

Outcomes and achievements
Sustain’s input helped establish new structures, systems and processes across the multi-professional deanery. As a result, robust project and performance management became better embedded in the organisation’s culture, enabling it to deliver projects more successfully.
Specific work to enhance the skills and knowledge of the senior team has also helped to increase capacity within the organisation.
As a result of Sustain’s contract management expertise and following the successful introduction of these projects, the management team has been able to deliver significant savings of around £1.5m.


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