Crossing professional boundaries: a toolkit for collaborative teamwork

Author: Camilla GodfreyDate: 2 years 3 months Ago

The purpose of the toolkit is to improve teamworking between different professional groups, notably clinicians and finance staff. It recognises that teams have a common purpose of making the NHS sustainable against rising demand and the associated financial challenges, and yet our research tells us that teams rarely consider how they are working together, and there remain considerable operational, cultural and language barriers between different professional groups.

The toolkit was commissioned by Future-Focused Finance and has been developed by  Professor Michael West of The King’s Fund, who at the launch spoke of the fundamental human need for social interaction, and how this plays out across professional teams. It is essential teams take the time out to reflect, and he proposes the following steps :

  1. Getting the Right Support
  2. Invite the Right People
  3. Find out what people think
  4. Prepare for the session
  5. Get people talking
  6. Keep going, make changes, and reflect again
  7. Support your peers

The toolkit has been piloted by organisations of differing type, size, structure and geography, to ascertain its effectiveness in a variety of workplace scenarios. A formal evaluation of 17 pilot sites carried out by CIPFA found that using the toolkit was seen as a highly beneficial exercise by those interviewees who completed the process. Particular benefits identified included:

  • The facilitation of a forum to understand staff roles, share learning and improve collaborative working;
  • The provision of a structured process that reduced the time needed to organise meetings, kept the conversations on track and helped to develop realistic actions;
  • Enabling processes for the development of feasible actions, that will allow collaborative processes to continue beyond the pilot process;

The evaluation also noted that the involvement and commitment of the financial and clinical leads are vital to ensuring the success of the project.

Judith Muir, Matron Head & Neck and Ophthalmology, with Rob Neale, Senior Service Improvement Accountant, led the piloting of the toolkit in Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT:

“Because we now understand each other better, I was able to work with my finance colleagues to justify the investment in some equipment which considerably improved the patient experience and shortened their length of stay.”



Through Future-Focused Finance, you are also able to join a network of people and organisations who are using the toolkit, either to get support or inspiration to help you improve engagement between your professional teams, or to offer your own experience or support. If you are unsure where to start, or just want to speak to someone about it, please email futurefocusedfinance@nhs.net and someone will be in touch.

We ran a webinar with Prof Michael West of The King’s Fund and Dr Sanjay Agrawal, our lead for Close Partnering in Future-Focused Finance for anyone who wants further information. The webinar gives an overview of the main elements of the toolkit.