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Developing a federated model of General Practice - Appointing the right support

I am often asked how you know that the consultancy support you are getting is the right support? While finding the right support can seem an impossible task, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your advisers have the relevant expertise and track record.

While there are many people coming in to this particular area of consultancy, very few appear able to be able to actually deliver the outcomes you need, of a company that is fit for purpose and ready to bid for services. Indeed, we have come across a number of horror stories where people went wrong at the beginning and it cost a lot of money to put right.

Word of mouth recommendation is always a good place to start.  If peers, friends and acquaintances have had a good experience, and are prepared to recommend a support service, you are well on the way to finding the right people. Better still if you get a recommendation from more than one source for the same support.

After this the company/individual you are considering should be able to demonstrate a clear track record of success. You need to be certain the  consultancy has experience of  developing federated models and working within the NHS - are you absolutely certain they understand your environment?

From there you should be able to get a transparent breakdown of all the work and associated costs, with key milestones and markers which will ensure the support is delivered on time. Again they should be able to evidence what has been done for others, and you can check this with their client base.

High quality companies will be able to demonstrate with examples the necessary experience of negotiating with Clinical Commissioning Groups, Foundation Trusts, Community Services, Community and Voluntary Sector, Local Authorities/Social Care. Additionally, they should be able to evidence understanding and experience with the new contracting models - Prime, Principle and Alliance.  A good consultancy will have all of this and more; they should be able to demonstrate the impact of their proposals and ideas within their previous work.

For those who are extremely confident in their own ability they may be prepared to work "at risk" to provide you some of the support you need, only being paid on delivery of the outcomes.

Conversely the things to look out for are pretty much all the opposites, where people are reluctant or unable to demonstrate with strong examples they can back up the rhetoric! Keep in mind that it is relatively easy to develop a presentation and brochure of what you could do; being able to then demonstrate you have delivered is a different matter.

Lastly, you need to watch out that the people offering you advice are not conflicted or constricted by being on the board of another federation. By this I mean you don't have a board member from one federation offering you support to set up your federation.

This is a recipe for disaster as these are legal entities and all documentation is confidential to the other company and cannot be used to develop your federation.  Many people fail to recognise this and it will cause problems, some of them could be costly.  In essence can you imagine a director of Tesco advising the board in Asda? No? Neither can I. This of course also makes it impossible for anyone to sit of the board of two federations at the same time.  The level of conflict is simply impossible to manage. We will cover conflict of interest and how to manage these in more detail in a future blog.

At BW Medical we would be delighted for you to speak with any of our federation clients, and seek a view from them on whether or not they believe we can deliver what you need. Please make contact and we will be delighted to arrange the introductions.

In our next blog, we will look at the initial steps to getting you started on the pathway to having a highly successful federation. 

For more information on how we can support you in forming a federation, or to arrange to speak to one of our experts please contact or call 0191 653 1022.

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