The University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre and Institute of Applied Health Research are today publishing the results of an innovative study undertaken with Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) to support the development of the STP’s strategic plan. 

The Birmingham and Solihull STP is where local NHS organisations, GP groups and councils, are working together to improve and change health and care services. Its strategy sets out how partners will take a collaborative approach to address the health and wellbeing gap for people living in our most and least advantaged areas; reducing the differences in access to services and the quality of care across Birmingham and Solihull. 

The STP approached the University in the summer of 2018 with a proposal to undertake a review of research evidence to inform the STP’s strategic priorities and objectives. The aim of the review was to provide a series of evidence-based recommendations to the STP Board concerning the content of its strategic plan – commenting where the current aims, outcomes and projects are well evidenced, and where elements of the plan might be re-considered due to strong countermanding evidence of lack of effectiveness or high cost, or a lack of evidence which suggests that caution should be exercised in pursuing certain courses of action at this stage - for example where research studies are ongoing and robust evidence from evaluation studies is still awaited.

Researchers from the University worked closely with STP leaders to identify nine possible services to be developed, spanning the STP’s three priority areas of childhood and adolescence, adulthood and work, and ageing and later life. The research team then identified and reviewed relevant systematic reviews of research evidence including: service evaluations; research trials and other studies;  national and local NHS literature, and other materials – a process which involved initial consideration of more than 3,000 publications and a subsequent closer analysis of over 270 research papers.

In order to ensure that the findings were accessible and useful to as wide a range of STP staff as possible, the research team developed an innovative approach to presenting the results. This involved making a recommendation – based on the evidence – as to whether the STP should ensure an intervention or approach was implemented, consider implementing it (or aspects of it), or avoid implementing it altogether.

Although these were clearly recommendations for the STP to consider, the research team provided a full explanation of the reasoning behind their recommendations and summarised the literature in detail so that STP leaders could use the information to make their own judgements.  The report has been prepared as a resource for the STP and other health and care organisations, and includes links to many the papers and studies reviewed.

Professor Judith Smith, Director of HSMC, said:

"This has proved to be a timely and important project, where we as a research team have been able to work closely with forward-thinking and ambitious health and care leaders as they developed their strategic plans.  We have sought to offer evidence-based insights to STP plans and priorities, drawing on a wide range of research studies and reviews, and seeking to present them in an accessible and useful manner."

Paul Jennings, System Leader of the Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, said:

"Our STP Strategy is about helping everyone in Birmingham and Solihull to live the healthiest and happiest lives possible. In order to do this, we have committed to taking decisions on the basis of the best available evidence. 

This important partnership with the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre and Institute of Applied Health Research provides us with evidence relating to our approach for addressing the issues of greatest need in health and care in our population and reducing inequalities in outcomes and variations in care; so that we support interventions which are most likely to be effective in addressing those needs. 

The evidence review will be a crucial tool for our partnership and professionals taking forward the strategy in order to bring about improvements to the health and wellbeing of people across Birmingham and Solihull. 

The STP will now proceed, following the evidence review and public engagement events last summer, to finalise our draft strategy – taking account of this important feedback which will inform how we deliver the interventions." 

Professor Dan Lasserson, an ambulatory care physician who co-led the research with Professor Smith, said:

“The collaboration between academic clinicians and policy researchers at the University has delivered robust support for the development of the STP strategy. This furthers the positive working relationship between the University of Birmingham and public sector leaders in Birmingham and Solihull.” 

Download the evidence review 

The Institute of Applied Health Research 

The Health Services Management Centre

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