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New training resources support trusts and systems to adopt the Mutual Aid process

A new training video and practical guide are now available to support providers through the Mutual Aid process; ensuring patients get the information they need to make an informed decision about accepting treatment further away from home to be seen and treated more quickly.

Trusts across England are taking steps to deliver equity of access to care and tackle waiting times, and GIRFT’s focused support team has worked with a number of trusts to guide them through the Mutual Aid Transfer Process (MATP). Mutual aid is a short-term solution to take pressure away from challenged organisations and systems, to reduce the number of long waiting patients by pooling resources and transferring patients to where there is capacity elsewhere in their Integrated Care System or region.

Alongside working with providers and systems, GIRFT has also collaborated with the Patients Association to develop a patient-focused series of resources which builds on first-hand experience of Mutual Aid. The aim is to ensure patients are fully informed of their options and the benefits of the MATP programme before they make any decision on whether to undertake treatment outside of their local area.

The new materials are based on the premise that patients should receive both verbal and written information about the possibility of their procedure taking place at another hospital, what Mutual Aid means for them and how it can benefit them, and how they can opt in.

Among the GIRFT resources are:

A 10-minute MATP training video: the video outlines the benefits of MATP and contains a sample conversation for effectively communicating with patients. GIRFT has found that in practice, patients are willing to move to hospitals further away if they are able to receive treatment quicker and the communication and process are managed appropriately. Trusts are encouraged to use the video to help train booking staff.

A sample template for patient telephone calls: a sample script supports providers to deliver a standardised approach when patients are offered MATP. It is important that patients fully understand the offer and are given the opportunity to ask questions. The script – aimed at colleagues who are contacting patients to offer them Mutual Aid, and to be used alongside the training video – highlights the key considerations to ensure patients can make an informed choice about their care.

A Mutual Aid Transfer Process practical guide: the Practical Guide to the Mutual Aid Transfer Process contains methodical steps for systems and trusts who are not receiving dedicated focused support from the GIRFT team but wish to explore MATP to tackle elective waiting lists. The guide contains step by step, practical advice, including links to tools and resources for support. Providers can work through a series of operational actions using the checklists provided to formulate clear action plans to implement mutual aid.

With GIRFT’s support, hundreds of patients have benefitted from mutual aid activity across England so far, reducing their waiting time for appointments and procedures in general surgery, urology, spinal, orthopaedic, ENT, ophthalmology, oral and maxillofacial, and cardiology.

The team at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust have now provided Mutual Aid to more than 100 patients with GIRFT’s support.

"The GIRFT approach is a tried and tested model that ensures you do, indeed, get it right first time for a process that has to be finely tuned. The GIRFT team provides support with the end-to-end Mutual Aid process, from introducing organisations that can work together to offer patients their care much sooner, advice on how to manage conversations with patients who are considering travelling for their care, and a step-by-step guide of the administrative processes with innovative approaches to smooth out the path ahead. I’m really proud of the aid we are able to offer and immensely thankful to our GIRFT colleagues for being the conduit and framework to help us make it happen.”

The new MATP support resources are part of GIRFT’s Focused Support offer. For further information email focussedsupportgirft@nhs.net

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