NHS collaborative peer support offer for local systems

This page outlines a new peer support offer from the LGA, NHS Providers, NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) and the NHS Confederation. Jointly, our four organisations represent and bring together local commissioners, providers of NHS care and local authorities giving us unique credibility and authority as a partnership.


We have developed a uniquely ‘sector led’ approach which offers support for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and local systems which voluntarily seek help from within the sector. This offer builds on extensive use of sector led improvement approaches within local government, led and developed by the LGA. It focuses particularly on helping system partners to forge new collaborative relationships and build shared understanding.

Download the local peer support brochure

A sector led approach

Our members see us as being independent, “from and of the sector” and therefore uniquely qualified and equipped to support those that are struggling to build effective relationships and to have difficult discussions in a ‘safe’ space with a focus on practical solutions.

Our partnership enables us to promote the role of system working across a wide audience, ensuring decision makers from health and local government are all ‘at the table’.

A ‘menu’ of tailored support

Our offer of support is entirely voluntary and based on using senior, experienced and credible peers who either currently work within the NHS and social care organisations, or who have very recent experience of leading and supporting local system working. We will flex our approach to support local needs as far as possible but the outline below provides further information on the support options available to your local system leadership.

  1. STP/local system health and care peer challenge
  2. Facilitated Integration Workshop and other bespoke workshops
  3. Peer to peer support
  4. Peer mentoring

STP/local health and care system peer challenge

Peer challenge involves a team of trained peers from across local government and health spending up to five days with key leaders examining opportunities and challenges that the local system is facing. Peers champion change and recognise excellence and the achievements of the places they approach. They understand the pressures and challenges of leading in complex environments and are there to offer challenge by acting as critical friends.

We meet with representatives from the system at the earliest opportunity to understand the local circumstances and scope the peer challenge and encourage systems to tailor the focus to support local priorities. It’s critical to get the whole system involved from the very start to ‘own’ the Peer Challenge.

The peer review team will study documents, policies and performance information prior to arriving on-site and will gather information throughout the week keeping the system leaders regularly updated as to emerging findings before giving constructive feedback on the final day including recommendations aimed to help drive improvement.

The peer challenge begins at least eight to 12 weeks before the peer team arrives on site. Its findings are delivered immediately after the challenge is completed with the option of follow up support available.

It is important to recognise that peer challenge is not part of assurance, regulation or inspection. It is a voluntary undertaking aimed at bringing system partners together in a safe space to consider new and better ways of working together. It provides a rare and valuable ‘time out’ for system leaders to reflect and take stock and plan for the future and is an independent, objective and purposeful process focussed on what will change. As such our STP/local system peer challenge tends to be more suitable for those with a functioning partnership where relationships and agreement of ‘next steps’ need to be consolidated (rather than built from scratch).

We will discuss the most appropriate make up of peers with you however a typical team would comprise:

  1. Lead peer – usually a former chief executive of a health or care organisation with experience of leading system working
  2. Trust chief executives, or former chief executives with experience of the acute, mental health and community sectors
  3. Trust chief executives or former chief executives with experience of the ambulance and specialist trust sectors where helpful Peer
  4. CCG accountable officer or clinical chair
  5. Local authority chief executive
  6. Local authority director of adult social services
  7. Local authority elected member peer
  8. STP director, or other colleagues with direct and relevant experience of the issues the ‘client’ system is tackling.

Facilitated Integration Workshops

Our facilitated integration toolkit and bespoke workshops for STP/system leadership teams enable local leadership teams to assess their progress towards integrated care and build a shared analysis of the challenges they face, as well as agreeing next steps. This support offer enables local health and wellbeing system leaders to identify their ambitions, capacity, capability and commitment and make meaningful progress towards achieving a fully integrated local health and care system. The workshop, facilitated by senior figures in health, local government and social care will enable you to identify where you are now and what more you need to do to escalate the scale and pace of integration. Our approach can be adapted to work with a range of complex situations, including across diverse organisational structures or multiple planning and commissioning footprints. It is usually based around a half day workshop with follow up as required.

Peer to peer support

We offer bespoke workshops with system leadership teams where there is a lack of consensus about next steps. We will deliver a series of sessions to help local system leaders to come to a shared understanding of the issues facing their system, and another couple of sessions exploring potential ‘solutions’.

Peer mentoring

Where helpful, we can match system leaders with professional coaches for one to one support. As with all coaching relationships, the nature of these discussions will remain confidential, however we have found in our past experience that coaching can be particularly beneficial in supporting leaders to reflect on tense relationships and weigh up difficult decisions.

Other related support

This offer sits alongside the NHS Confederation-led regional networks for STP and ICS, an approach also supported by LGA, NHSCC and NHS Providers. These two proposals are mutually reinforcing: the networks will allow partnership leaders to debate key issues arising from system working and to share learning regionally and nationally, and our offer will complement this with bespoke, frontline, peer led support for individual STPs or systems.

Our advisors would also be happy to signpost other training, development and support products from across our memberships.

To discuss any aspect of these offers please contact either:

Marcus Coulson
Programme Manager
NHS Providers and the Local Government Association
Tel: 07766 252 853
Email: marcus.coulson@local.gov.uk

or

Kay Burkett
Programme Manager
Care & Health Improvement, Local Government Association
Tel: 07909 534126
Email: kay.burkett@local.gov.uk