Accepting the award, Shakeel Sabir, head of the MERIT programme, said:
“The review into the homicide of Christina Edkins in Birmingham in 2013 recommended improvements to information sharing between organisations, including NHS trusts, after finding that Christina’s killer had been known to different NHS mental health trusts in the preceding years, in addition to other support services and the criminal justice system.
“The response of the organisations was to seek a means to share key clinical information with each other at a time of mental health crisis. The resulting Electronic Health Record Viewer went live in January 2018, and has already been used to provide care to scores of patients.
“Key components underpinning the development include a robust Information Sharing Agreement and Standard Operating Procedures, supported by Caldicott Guardians and information governance managers in each organisation; strong co-operation between ICT staff from the four trusts, alongside an external supplier (Intersystems) which built the framework; a phased rollout, beginning with crisis resolution, home treatment and acute liaison teams who were deemed most likely to encounter patients from neighbouring areas; bespoke, online training materials which can be viewed by clinicians at a time of their choosing via their organisation’s intranet; and a targeted communications strategy, aimed at frontline clinicians, incorporating written materials and face-to-face presentations.
“The concept is a simple one: to provide clinicians with up-to-date information which they can use to make swifter clinical decisions. We believe that this is a product which could be replicated in other areas, not only in the West Midlands but nationally.”
The MERIT programme team has already given around 20 presentations to teams in the partner trusts, demonstrating the Electronic Health Record Viewer. The earliest presentations have been given to those teams which clinical directors determined were perhaps more likely to come into contact with patients from other areas, such as those working in crisis resolution, acute liaison and criminal justice diversion.
The MERIT partnership consists of the following organisations: Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust; Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust; and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust; Forward Thinking Birmingham (since early 2018).
It was initially established as one of 50 Vanguard programmes by NHS England, charged with developing innovative solutions to local, regional and national challenges in the NHS. Since April 2018, when NHS England’s funding ceased, the programme has been financed by the partner organisations.