WHP strategic alliance mobilises partners to address population health need


The Wessex Health Partners (WHP) strategic alliance has brought together partners from across Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to explore how research and innovation (R&I) can improve population health.

The event, which was a first of its kind for Wessex, saw health and care and R&I leaders gather to discuss the key challenges and priorities for the region, and explore opportunities to address them through increased collaboration and partnership working.

More than 100 people attended the event, which took place at Southampton Science Park on Friday 15 March.

Attendees joined five interactive learning sessions throughout the day and heard from a range of speakers, including experts from public health and the voluntary sector.

The event was opened with an excellent overview of Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs), Systems and Boards. Recently introduced in line with the Health and Care Act 2022, these new structures drive and support changing the way NHS partners work together and with wider stakeholders in the provision of health and care services that meet the needs of our local populations, address health inequalities and tackle challenges faced by health and care systems. Our second speaker followed with a highly informative talk introducing the audience to public and population health, setting the scene for later discussions.

Session one continued with system leaders from Dorset and Hampshire and Isle of Wight (HIOW) Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) sharing their ICP strategies and ICB 5-year joint forward plans, helping attendees develop a deeper understanding of the local health and care need and system priorities.

The second session showcased some of Wessex’s world-leading R&I infrastructure and provided insight into their programmes, ways of working and role in transforming health and care through cutting edge research and the deployment of innovations. The speakers spoke enthusiastically of the potential to further accelerate addressing local population health need through greater collaborative working.

After engaging table discussions to share knowledge and ideas amongst attendees, the event moved on to focus on some of the resources, tools and insight already available within the system as examples of what might be harnessed more effectively to support work in this area.

Colleagues from Dorset and HIOW introduced their ICB population health management tools, showcasing through examples, the richness of data available and use cases. Focusing on one city as an example, our next speaker from the Southampton Data Observatory spoke of the statutory Local Authority Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and provided more insight on the challenges facing individuals and communities at a more granular level in Southampton.

Specifically for research, a presentation on the Wessex Secure Data Environment provided an overview of work being progressed as part of a national initiative, to make health and care data more accessible for researchers unlocking the potential of data to speed up discovery, development and deployment of R&I.

Of course, making best use of data requires a suitably skilled workforce, which, as the audience heard, is supported in our region by Wessex’s Data and Analytics Centre of Excellence, a collaborative community of data analytics professionals across the region.

Insight is not always data, and our speaker from Help & Care, gave a compelling talk, drawing on the stories of individuals and communities, highlighting the opportunities and benefits of partnering with the voluntary sector and local communities.

As the day drew to a close, attendees discussed the content of the day’s presentations and offered their thoughts and commitment to the opportunities presented and how best to realise. 

WHP Managing Director, Christine McGrath closed the day, thanking the speakers and attendees for engaging so enthusiastically and summarising next steps for taking forward conversations with partners and wider stakeholder in the strategic alliance of WHP. 

Reflecting on the event, Christine McGrath, Managing Director of WHP, said: 

“It was a truly fantastic day. We’re delighted to have brought together so many leaders from across Wessex for an interactive learning event.

“There was clearly a lot of enthusiasm in the room, and we know that valuable connections have already been made.

“A big thank you to our speakers and chairs for leading such fascinating sessions, and to all our attendees for participating in so many interesting discussions.

“I think we can be confident that the event will stimulate considerable high-quality research and innovation that will have a positive impact on population health. 

“We look forward to continued collaboration with partners to accelerate improvements in health and care for Wessex and wider society.”  

Professor William Rosenberg, Chair of WHP, added: 

“The event was a first of its kind for our region, and there was a real buzz in the room.

“It was great for our health and care leaders to discover potential collaborators who can address the needs of the community, but also for our researchers and innovators to know that there are questions out there that need answers.

“I hope the event will be the start of conversations and collaborations that allow us to address the principal questions and challenges that our Integrated Care Systems are facing.

“It was very interesting to hear the differences and the commonalities between Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but I think the overriding message was the need to address the health and care inequalities faced by our under-served communities.

“Wessex Health Partners can help by bringing people together for events like this, but also by continuing to nurture, foster and maintain those relationships moving forwards." 

Dr Lara Alloway, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for HIOW ICB, said:

“It was fantastic to have so many people together to think about opportunities to reduce health inequalities and improve health outcomes through research and innovation. I was delighted to be part of it and it’s a key objective for us in our system. 

“We talked about our priorities going forward and how we need research to underpin all the work that we’re doing.

“My talk was about the importance of collaboration and working together, but it isn't always easy. It takes time to set up different ways of working. I want researchers to really understand how the Integrated Care Systems, Partnerships and Boards are working and how they can work with us.

“We all want the same thing - the best for our population, and so it's about understanding how we can work together setting up those partnerships. That’s what Wessex Health Partners has started to do, and it's the beginning of an exciting journey.”

Dr Paul Johnson, CMO for NHS Dorset, said: 

“To have so many people gathered together from across the research, innovation and service provision spectrum and to sense the enthusiasm and excitement in the room demonstrates the opportunity we have coming together under Wessex Health Partners, and the willingness to grasp that opportunity.

“Understanding each other’s priorities and strategic objectives showed so much common ground where connections and collaboration will lead to genuine improvement in care and experience for our patients.”

Professor Mike Grocott, Director of NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and Wessex Experimental Medicine Network, added:  

“The event was really valuable. Wessex Health Partners has served as a catalyst for bringing two communities together - our researchers and innovators, and our Integrated Care Systems and Boards.

“I hope that the conversations developing out of this will be really productive. There was a lot of energy in the room and a palpable sense of wanting to get something done. I think we’re at the start of something new and exciting. There was a recognition of need from all sides, and the people in the room who can provide a solution and make things happen.”

View the presentations:

View our event gallery below.

Learn more about how WHP is improving population health

More articles

See all news