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First in the northern hemisphere – North Cumbria Hospital HealthPathways

Published on 21 Oct, 2021 | Return|

Since introducing their Community HealthPathways programme in July 2020, the North Cumbria HealthPathways team have been delighted with how they have been able to use their programme as a springboard to engage their local health system in collaborative conversations. They’re now building on this momentum, creating a combined implementation with North Cumbria Hospital HealthPathways – the first of its type in the northern hemisphere.

“Our community pathways are already starting to deliver impact in terms of reduced variation and increased consistency,” says North Cumbria HealthPathways Programme Manager, Phil Knighton.

“Our secondary care colleagues in particular have really bought into this way of working. As soon as we flagged the potential to adopt Hospital HealthPathways, there was huge support to take it forward. We think having a combined implementation will bring huge value to our system but in particular we hope it will help us to deliver consistent care, which makes the most efficient use of our available local resources,” he says. 

The ability to provide consistent guidance to enable clinicians to manage patients in the most efficient way was one of the main reasons the team decided to move forward with Hospital HealthPathways, explains Phil.

“We’re aiming for a ”one-stop shop” repository of every key pathway accessible to GPs, hospital specialists, nurse practitioners, therapists, and junior doctors. In this way, we want to reduce unwarranted variation, improve quality, reduce waste, and engage clinicians through joint pathway development. We intend to build on the success of our Community HealthPathways programme, and for the two sites to complement each other, optimising the smooth flow of patients in and out of hospital services.”

Services under pressure

While pathway development work will present a challenge to services that are already under significant pressure, the team are confident the new pathways will help significantly with this once they are up and running. Making the best use of Subject Matter Expert (SME) time in the development phase will therefore be a key priority, explains Phil. 

“Like everywhere, our secondary care services are under incredible pressure at the moment. Although the new hospital-oriented pathways will help alleviate some of that pressure, the capacity required to launch the local site will be necessarily limited. COVID is still having a huge impact on clinical services and in particular there is a list of elective care activity which continues to grow and will place strain on our local services for many years. As such, we will have to make best use of the limited SME time we will have available to us, as services are currently so stretched due to the impact of COVID-19,” he says.

Another local issue that the team hope their Hospital HealthPathways programme will help overcome is location, with an aging population, often with limited transport, needing to travel long distances to access health services. 

Hospital HealthPathways will also play a key part in supporting the transfer of high-risk patients from West Cumbria Hospital to Cumberland Infirmary.

“Junior doctors and locums often don’t have the details they need about local practice, and have nowhere to go to find this information reliably. Our Hospital HealthPathways programme will be the “go to place” to find localised guidelines,” says Phil. 

First priorities and raising awareness

Focus over the next few months will centre around establishing and training the new Hospital HealthPathways team, starting work with clinical editors to develop pathways, and carrying out further engagement activities to raise awareness of the programme within North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC).

“Our Community HealthPathways team will play a key role in mentoring and offering support to our new Hospital HealthPathways team,” says Phil.

“Dr Ed (Edward) Barton, Senior Clinical Editor, and Clinical Editor and Registered Nurse Donna Lewthwaite have worked within the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust for several years, and are well-known and respected. Clinical Editor Dr Reham Awad, who is new to the Trust, will bring a new perspective, drawing from her previous experience and knowledge to introduce new ways of working.”  

“We’ll continue to raise awareness and attend meetings with the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS), North Cumbria Integrated Care Partnership Leaders Board (ICP), North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC), and the North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). In addition to our ongoing demonstrations to GPs, we’ll also roll out demos within the Trust, and include these in our ongoing education and training packages.” 


EdBartonHPC2   DonnaLewthwaiteHPC3   RehamAwadHPC2

From left to right: Dr Ed (Edward) Barton - HealthPathways Senior Clinical Editor; Donna Lewthwaite - HealthPathways Clinical Editor and Registered Nurse; Dr Reham Awad - HealthPathways Clinical Editor

First in the northern hemisphere 

The North Cumbria programme will be the first northern hemisphere implementation of Hospital HealthPathways. 

“As such, we know we’ll have to traverse a number of challenges,” says Phil.  

“We’re pleased with our progress so far, we’re clear about the steps we need to take, and we’re excited about growing the programme.”

Early feedback has been very positive, perhaps summed up by this comment received recently:

“The pathway looks great, and what a productive collaborative process to contribute to.”
Mr William Hage, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

More information

If you’d like to know more about Hospital HealthPathways, or if your health jurisdiction hasn’t yet joined the HealthPathways Community please: