Communications colleagues across the ICS have been networked for some time. This was more formally established between two acute provider trusts in 2021 when Blackpool and East Lancashire hospitals appointed a joint executive director of communications. This has resulted in closer working relationships between the trust communications teams with a more cohesive approach and shared priorities, a greater skills provision and the removal of duplication with significantly improved results. One tangible example of this was the engagement campaign provided for the national Staff Survey, developed and delivered by one person across both trusts. Each trust subsequently recording their highest ever return rates. This clearly demonstrates the scope to remove duplication and improve outcomes.
Shelley Wright, joint executive director of communications at Blackpool and East Lancashire, said: “Communications is always going to be a small function in terms of resource but can have a huge impact on outcomes for colleagues, partner organisations and of course our patients and their families. What we have been able to do, in quite a short space of time, is create one bigger team with a greater blend of specialist skills and more capacity than two smaller teams working separately.
“This is already having a positive impact on both trusts – removing duplication, sharing ideas and expertise and, ultimately, improving results. I’m proud of what has been achieved and looking forward to expanding the approach and seeing more tangible outcomes in 2022.”