Introducing Dr Penny Dash, Chair of the North West London Integrated Care System

25 July 2022

A video blog with Dr Penny Dash, Chair of the North West London Integrated Care System (NW London ICS), where she introduces herself and sets out the priorities of NW London ICS in the coming months.

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Please can you tell us about your role within NW London?

Hello, my name is Penny Dash and I'm the Chair of the North West London Integrated Care system which is essentially a sort of umbrella organisation that brings together all of the organisations who are responsible for delivering health and care services within NW London, those are both NHS organisations and local authority organisations. And indeed there are also a number of voluntary sector organisations that also provide care and support for people living in the area.

Within the Integrated Care System is the Integrated Care Board and that is the NHS part of the system, which is responsible for commissioning services. This means distributing the money which we receive on behalf of everybody who lives in North West London, in order to ensure that we improve their health, we reduce any inequalities in health and we ensure high quality services are available to them.

What's your motivation for getting involved in the NHS?

I spent the whole of my career involved in healthcare. I started as a doctor and I actually worked in North West London for quite a while. I was a senior House officer, which is a junior doctor at Northwick Park Hospital for two years and I then worked in public health also in North West London for two years in a range of roles, including some management roles, some health improvement roles, some research roles.

I have also had some roles looking at improving services. Since then I've had a number of different jobs. I've worked partly in management consulting and I've worked partly in a senior management role, again within the NHS as Director of Strategy across the whole system.  My consulting work has largely focused on healthcare in the UK, but also very much internationally. So I'm very much a healthcare person through and through. I am particularly passionate about the NHS and its goals and ambitions and its ethos.

What are your hopes for the ICS this time next year?

I slightly worry that a year will go past very quickly, but what I really hope is that we can get up and running to start to deliver on the shared aspirations of people both working in the NHS, working in local government, but also the residents in the patch. What's really struck me over the last year or so when I've been talking to people and that's whether I'm talking to senior doctors, nurses, physios, psychologists, therapists and so on, or whether I'm speaking to people working in local government or whether I'm speaking to members of the public, the shared agenda is actually pretty similar. In fact, I could argue surprisingly similar.

What most people would articulate is that they absolutely think we need to get up stream. We need to focus a lot more on supporting people to live healthier lives. We need a very different model of primary care, one which supports people again, to live healthier lives, but is also much more based on multidisciplinary teams, working as larger groups, essentially being more accessible. I think many people would argue that's what we need to be focused on, as well as ensuring that we look after people well outside of hospital.

And we need our hospitals to be working as efficiently and effectively and as high quality as possible. We've made lots of improvements already in the last few years, but there's still a way to go, and then all sorts of opportunities to redesign our workforce, introduce more digital technologies, think about how we use data, think about research and innovation and so on. So that's really the shared agenda.

We're not going to do all of that in a year, much as I would like to, but what I do think we can do is set out how we will deliver on that shared agenda, what the timetable for delivery will be and that we will have made some real positive early steps along that journey by this time next year.

What is your main message to staff at this time?

I suspect many people find it a mixture of confusing, bizarre and frustrating to hear about yet another reorganisation of the NHS and they have my sympathies. The bits I would really point to would be, I think for most people working in the NHS, they're focus absolutely is on looking after patients and doing so with fantastic dedication and commitment and skill and that really is where people's focus and energy should continue.

At the same time, I'm very aware that there have been frustrations and sometimes people can't quite understand that it would be better to look after somebody in a different way, but somehow we can't do that because the pot of money sits somewhere else, it's a different organisation and so on. And what we are trying to do through this is try and get rid of some of those niggles. Some of those pieces where it has been felt that we can't move either staff or money around from one bit of the system to another.

And so really, that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to get rid of some of the frustrations, some of the things, the blocks really and provide an environment whereby our frontline clinical staff can do what they do best, which is really looking after people and can do so in the most effective and efficient way.

What I would encourage everyone to do is, if you do think that there are things where you think why do we do it like this or we could be working in a much more effective way, then please reach out to your line manager, reach out to the chief executive of your organisation or indeed reach out to us in the ICS. We're all reasonably accessible. We've got a website you can see who is who and we'll try and answer your questions in the most effective way that we can.

That's great. Thank you very much.

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