Independent Health Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Independent Health Group's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Independent Health Group is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
CEO and Founder
DrMatthew Wordsworth
Patient safety and excellent clinical
outcomes are our top priorities
Dr Matthew Wordsworth worked for many years in large
Hospitals at home and overseas and, subsequently,
general practice. He brought this learning together
and founded Independent Health Group in 2004 with the
explicit aim of providing NHS services of the highest quality.
He wanted to build a new healthcare organisation where
like-minded healthcare professionals could create a caring,
innovative and efficient modern NHS healthcare organisation fit
for the 21st century. Key to the service, which began treating
its first patients in the spring of 2005, is its community focus,
integration within the local health system, speed of service and
dedication to patient satisfaction. DrWordsworth, CEO, tells
TheParliamentary Review
more about the company.
Putting patients first
We began with the goal of being a leading provider of community-based diagnostic
and treatment services of the highest quality, where patients always come first
and treatment is quick. For us, community was important, as we know patient
satisfaction and outcomes are improved in community settings (as evidenced by a
study featured in the
Literature Review of Clinical Impacts
). In short, we wanted
to be closer to patients’ lives, which involves being in convenient locations with
good transport access and parking; working in partnership working in partnership
with and co-locating in modern GP facilities; and working with a range of local
clinicians, enabling us to integrate with local acute providers.
»CEO and Founder:
DrMatthew Wordsworth
»Established in 2004
»Based in Bath with services in
Wiltshire, Reading, Swindon,
Gloucester, South Devon and
»Services: Hand surgery,
podiatric surgery, vasectomy,
abdominal hernia repair and
cataract procedures
»No. of employees: 55
»Treats approximately 600
patients a month
Independent Health
Central to this enterprise are three core
1. “Patients always come first”: Patient
safety and excellent clinical outcomes
are our top priorities. Patients are
treated with the utmost respect and
dignity; we will always be empathetic,
honest and compassionate. We take
the time to listen to patients’ needs
and respond to them. Continuity of
care is also important to us: patients
will be seen by the same clinician
throughout their treatment.
2. “Excellence through continuous
improvement”: Excellence is our goal
and we continually look for ways to be
better at what we do – better patient
outcomes, a better experience for
patients, better efficiencies and better
communication. Our clinical staff are
appointed for their record of excellence
in patient care.
3. “Teamwork underpins all we do”:
Delivering high-quality services is
dependent on strong teamwork and
effective communication. We expect
everyone who works in Independent
Health Group to value their colleagues
and treat them with respect and
consideration. We recognise the
importance of clear and timely two-
way communication both within
Independent Health Group and with
our stakeholders.
Operational excellence
Values alone, however, are not enough
to provide the excellent care that we
strive to achieve. We ensure that our
flexible, multispecialty workforce allows
us to use resources where needed,
thereby creating efficiencies. We utilise
different types of clinicians to bring
extra capacity into the local health
system. By working in community
surgical suites, we have developed
expertise in the standards needed to
provide safe services to patients and
remain efficient in terms of resources
and process. We also ensure the
consistent application of clinical
commissioning group (CCG) policy,
which is embedded in both clinical and
non-clinical staff practice. Alongside
this, we provide efficient surgical
procedures that are safe and have
excellent patient outcomes. Depending
on the treatment, a patient will spend
no longer than two hours with us.
Furthermore, we offer a range of
appointment types – either telephone,
face to face or patient-initiated –
therefore sharing responsibility for their
care with their clinician and ensuring
only patients that have a clinical need
are seen in person. It’s also important
that we help to reduce waiting lists at
hospitals, which enables them to focus
on more complex patients who need
acute hospital environments.
Provable success
Our success is evidenced by the
»98 per cent of patients see the same
clinician throughout their treatment
»Our friends-and-family survey
revealed that 99 per cent of patients
would recommend our service
»Zero infections in the year to date for
hospital-acquired infections
»Zero breaches in the year to date for
mixed-sex accommodation Creating a caring and
modern organisation fit
for the 21st century
Their service is
an example of
a provider who
is able to work
with us to
deliver the most
services for our
patients, as
well as value
for money to
the health
Mark Harris, Director of
Acute Commissioning
at Wiltshire CCG
Highlighting best practice
»35 per cent of hernia patients are
managed conservatively without
»National targets for ‘Referral to
Treatment’ within 18 weeks has seen
100 per cent of patients treated within
that time frame in the year to date
Our company focus on learning and
using data informs our future actions
and is one of the main reasons for
success. We continually review granular,
patient-level audit and outcome data
to inform performance and any quality
improvements. Our approach provides
value for money to the NHS, as our
proven track record of delivering
services below the national tariff often
means the cost to the NHS is cheaper
than larger hospitals. Likewise, we
support GP resilience by using available
primary care facilities.
Mark Harris, Director of Acute
Commissioning at Wiltshire CCG,
said: “[Their service] is an example of
a provider who is able to work with us
to deliver the most appropriate services
for our patients, as well as value for
money to the health economy.”
Where change is needed
Successful as we are, there are
challenges. Firstly, there is a need for
small and medium sized providers to
be actively engaged in service planning
within integrated care systems to
support a different approach to
service delivery that results in high
quality, efficient services that can
respond flexibly and quickly. We have
developed our expertise which can
now be used within other integrated
care systems.
There is also the problem of multiple
CCG clinical policies, which creates
a postcode lottery for patients and
makes it operationally challenging
when delivering services to multiple
CCGs. We’ve overcome this through
robust administrative processes and
check points to ensure we comply with
We’d also like to see a change in the
perception of community surgery. At
present, many clinicians, commissioners
and hospital managers, as well as
the public, are not aware of what
services are being safely and effectively
provided in community settings. While
it is well understood that patients
with complex co-morbidities should
be treated under local anaesthetic
wherever possible, this is maximised
in dedicated community services and
such patients are not excluded.
Direction and hopes for the
In the future, we’d like to see healthcare
operate more collaboratively and
involve independent companies with
a capacity to respond to the changing
needs of healthcare in a more diverse
or innovative manner. A greater
embracing of outcome rather than
transactional-based targets would
add more value to patient care. In any
event, we’re looking to develop more
and better services in the community
to support effective patient care and
better outcomes.
This is the
NHS at its
Patient comment
Independent Health Group
is the largest independent
provider of community
podiatric surgical services

This article was sponsored by Independent Health Group. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister