In this blog, Lisa shares how the South West London acute provider collaborative has worked with the four South West London acute NHS trusts, to establish and procure a single contract for a cohesive staff benefits portal.
The South West London acute provider collaborative (APC) works collectively to improve quality, efficiency and greater growth potential. The APC is funded by and works across all four acute trusts in South West London (Croydon, Epsom and St Helier, Kingston and St George’s hospitals).
The APC is accountable to the collaboration board, which includes four chief executive officers (CEOs) from each of the acute trusts. All decisions made are agreed in partnership.
The trusts decided to establish a single contract for a staff benefits portal for approximately 23,800 staff (excludes bank only workers).
The benefits portal needed to be capable of providing a menu of options to meet the individual requirements of each trust. This flexible approach meant that each trust had an option to choose the most suitable benefits for their workforce. Some of the benefits included:
- cycle to work scheme
- financial wellbeing
- technology products
- employee discounts
- car leasing scheme
- discounted gym membership
- dental insurance.
We pulled together a business case for the benefits portal approved by the CEOs and HRDs from each trust. The tender process was led by the APC project team, with input from all four trusts which included procurement, health and wellbeing, HR and our communications teams.
We successfully awarded the contract in December 2019 and the implementation date was set for March 2020. COVID-19 posed a major challenge by delaying the implementation of the project. We restarted the implementation phase in summer 2020 and agreed to launch the benefits portal in September 2020, but unfortunately not all trusts were ready to launch at the same time, again due to COVID-19 pressures.
We successfully launched the benefits portal for two trusts at the end of September 2020 and the other two in the middle of October 2020. The benefits portal was promoted via various communication channels including the weekly staff bulletin, CEO briefings and social media. Overall, we have received positive feedback from staff and the majority have informed us that the benefits portal is easy to use and navigate.
- Make sure you get all the teams that need to be included in the project involved from the beginning and hold regular project meetings.
- Just because you understand and are fully committed to collaboration doesn’t mean the systems and processes are set up in that way. Be prepared to think ‘outside of the box’ in terms of how things may work.
- If you go with a third-party provider, ensure their system is easy to use and easy to navigate for the users.
Our next step is to monitor the benefits portal and its usage to ensure it continues to meet the needs of our workforce. We have set up quarterly performance meetings with the provider, where we will discuss the facts and figures of uptake. This will help us to improve our engagement and carry out the evaluation and monitor the impact on our workforce.