The pilot for the first Surrey Heartlands Academy Multi-Professional Reference Panel launched last month. Health and social care professionals with a clinical interest in Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), including stroke, hypertension, diabetes and cardiac arrhythmias, have been sent invitations to join and it’s been gratifying to see a good initial response.

The Panel is a secure database of individuals with a clinical interest, expertise and experience in CVD who would like to take part in service transformation work and who want to use their specific knowledge and expertise to advise on pathways, models and how services should be delivered at different stages of the project lifecycle.

Once registered, individuals’ details are held securely in a database and they’ll then be invited as appropriate to get involved in a number of ways. For example, this could include reviewing best practice, identifying key issues, contributing ideas, helping to design or comment on proposed pathways, taking part in focus groups, completing surveys and attending stakeholder workshops.

A similar pilot for a Multi-Professional Reference Panel for Mental Health will be launched towards the end of this year.

The idea behind the panels is to provide a way for a wide range of health and social care professionals to work together – with the support of Surrey Heartlands Academy – to contribute to improved outcomes for our citizens.

So why exactly do we need to use this expertise across our system in this way? The main reasons are so we can access a broader range of voices to help make decisions, and to ensure that different levels of our workforce across different organisations have the opportunity to share their opinions on changes that could affect them and their work.

With the pilot for CVD, we are aiming to provide a platform that will help to address clinical variation across our Integrated Care Partnerships, and to reduce strokes in Surrey Heartlands by 10 per month. For every 25 cases of Atrial Fibrillation identified and appropriately treated, one stroke can be prevented. And for every 67 cases of Hypertension identified and appropriately treated, another stroke can be prevented. (You can read more in the Public Health England report on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention here).

The CVD and Mental Health pilots will be evaluated towards the end of this year and, if as we hope, the results prove their effectiveness, they will become a permanent part of our work.

The Surrey Heartlands Academy is a virtual network which supports clinicians to adopt, share and evaluate innovation, research and best practice. Read more about our work at http://surreyheartlands.uk/the-academy/