Collaboration in the Hospice Movement – Berwick Partners Not for Profit Dinner

Published: 21 November 2016

We were delighted to host a dinner event on Wednesday 16th November in Liverpool with guest speaker Tracey O’Keefe, Managing Director of Hospice Quality Partnership (HQP) who talked about why the organisation exists and the impact of the organisation on the sector.

With the need for hospice care increasing and funding becoming even more competitive and challenging, the need for collaboration has never been greater.  

Tracey spoke about a similar concept in the U.S called Premier Inc. which is a healthcare improvement company uniting an alliance of approximately 3,750 U.S. hospitals and 130,000 other providers to improve the health of communities. Having seen the benefits of Premier Inc. they decided to make the leap of faith and give it a go in the UK. 

HQP, now in its second year of operation, is an innovative, social enterprise with partner hospices from across the UK, who all hold an equal share in the company. The three key areas of work are shared procurement, benchmarking (sharing data) and revenue generation.  They now have 59 hospice partners and have to date saved their partners well over £110,000 and now control £400m worth of spend. HQP has been the finalist in two national awards this year and has now started to recruit affiliates. However, according to Tracey, while HQP are doing brilliantly, progress is slow and there is a long way to go.

The benefit of being part of HQP is that an individual hospice doesn’t have to go through the procurement process. HQP does it for them, saving them time and money as a result. 

However, successful collaboration is complex and hard work, and every partner needs to have passion for it as well as discipline and commitment. A hospice also has to want to drive the benefit of the partnership rather than their own individual organisation. It takes time to build this trust. The key thing about successful collaboration is having one voice.

There is also the issue of a hospice being important to its community, about being local and loyal to its own values. Tracey pointed out that if a hospice does happen to find a better deal locally, HQP will not stop them from choosing that option but will want to know how the hospice managed to get that better deal so they can learn from it. 

As the evening began to draw to a close the guests started to discuss ideas around the need for the movement to start looking at greater forms of partnership and the potential for mergers. The importance of a hospice to its local community was not lost on the room however.

Guests also discussed the possibility of a ‘lead provider service’ with a group of hospices in a locality sharing back office functions such as Finance, HR or IT thus reducing overhead costs for the benefit of all. 

There seemed to be a consensus that the Hospice movement should start to think differently and ask itself whether it is ‘too part of the system’, whether it is too focussed on the relatively small contributions they receive from the NHS and should start focussing on the much larger percentage of an organisation’s turn over that they control and have the potential to grow. 

The overarching issue is that as a movement, the hospice sector has to be more flexible, fleet of foot and more responsive. 

As one Chief Executive said, “it is time to be radical again.”

The dinner was an inspiring and engaging event with 14 hospice Chief Executives in attendance being open and honest, allowing Tracey to provide expert insight and practical approaches to collaboration. 

Sandra Hamovic is a Principal Consultant in the Not for Profit Practice, she specialises in working with Hospices across the UK.

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