On Wednesday, as the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP launched the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing to a room packed with MPs, policy makers and national and local thought leaders, I was delighted to see that the real driver behind service transformation does not just come from making efficiencies, but actually from making a real difference to people’s lives.
The Minister spoke about the need for a “collective confidence” to share information – his focus was not monetary, but on the value that information sharing brings to people.
This was a theme that continued throughout the day. Helen Edwards CBE, Director General of Localism for DCLG, followed the Minister and recounted a personal story about her elderly parents and the frustrations of dealing with agencies who don’t talk to one another. After explaining how one of his constituents had to recount their story to a number of different workers, Graham Allen MP went on to emphasise the value of sharing information to prevent duplication.
And finally, Peter Jackson and Matthew Wakely from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust demonstrated how an information sharing partnership between Leicestershire Police and mental health practitioners was helping people with mental health illness get the treatment they need, rather than entering the criminal justice system or being sectioned under the mental health act.
Through my work, previously with the IISaM project and more recently in setting up the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing, I have found there is always a personal story that can be recounted as part of every information sharing journey.
I believe the Minister was right however, in saying we need a “collective confidence” because, as strong as these individual stories are, changing the way an organisation works and the culture that drives it is not an easy task. It takes a leap of faith for all who are involved to address the underlying issues that prevent effective partnership working.
That is why it is important to identify what story your service users could tell you now and what you want them to say once the barriers have been hurdled and a new way of working is in place.
Keeping that end goal in sight acts as a constant reminder of why we should embark on this journey, which is why we are launching our ‘What’s the Info Story’ campaign.
November is Better Services Month and in support of this, we are keen to share the personal stories that are driving information sharing across government and in local places, to improve outcomes for service users.
What is yours? If you would like to share your story, please contact our dissemination team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Curtis, Director
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing