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21/12/20

An Interview with Phil Church… on Liaison Care, Joint Funding, and the challenges facing CCGs

Liaison Care

Towards the end of 2020, Liaison Care welcomed a new Managing Director, Phil Church, to the business. We speak to him to find out more about him, his background, and his plans for Liaison Care to support CCGs into 2021…

Q. What brings you to Liaison Care, Phil?

“It’s been a long road to Liaison if I’m honest!

“I began my career in the Telecoms and IT sector, which was such an exciting marketplace to be in during the 80’s and 90’s. Then, around 15 years ago, I took up a 6 week assignment in the NHS, just a 6 week ‘diversion’ I thought at the time, but health has a way of getting its claws into you and I’ve been working in healthcare ever since.

“I’ve always had a passion for turnaround, transformation and operational delivery, and I’ve been lucky enough to find roles which took me all over the country and into every kind of health scenario; working with Acute Trusts, CCGs, Care and Community Trusts and Primary Care teams. It has been a brilliant 15 years.

“I was introduced to Continuing HealthCare (CHC) and the delicate balance between CHC and Social Care very early in my NHS career, and have been involved in the running, optimisation and efficiency of CHC delivery throughout my time commissioning healthcare.

“I had a very steep learning curve, addressing some chronic issues in (what were then) PCTs, where I was trying to put right both the processes we used to get to the right decisions, as well as making sure we spent the right money well.  

“It taught me more than anything that every patient who requires CHC deserves to have an experience which is speedy, smooth and fair, and those are values I see shining out of everything Liaison Care was and is doing.

“I joined Liaison Group initially as a Special Advisor back in January 2020, and more recently I’ve been delighted to take on responsibility for Liaison Care as its Managing Director. We are the continuing healthcare partner of choice for over 60% of the CCGs in England, and enjoy some great relationships across the health and social care spectrum.

“I was just blown away by the range of products and services developed by Liaison Care to help people manage their rising costs. If you’re delivering in that space and have problems, I genuinely believe we have a product or service tailor-made to help. Very few other organisations can make that claim!

“I’m now talking to clients everyday about a combination of CHC quality reviews, financial and contract reviews, and cost calculation software, all supported by highly knowledgeable and experienced consultancy support. And we have never been busier!”

Q. What are the challenges currently faced by CCGs?

“There are many, not least the recent announcements about the way CCGs will be ‘folded into’ ICS or similar bodies over the coming year. I can only imagine the turmoil we could see as this moves forward to shadow form and then full integration.

“And I think there’s an almost equally huge challenge at the ‘divide’ between health and social care. Any system that has patients who can potentially fall on either side of a dividing line, and with the consequences of where they fall having such a huge impact on what funding they are entitled to, is always going to be a contentious area.

“It’s a very sizeable budget too, and I’ve always been aware that the commissioning of community-based services, which is a huge workload for CCGs and Local Authorities (LAs), involves finding fair ways to agree the share of responsibility for cases to be funded by each partner.

“I know all too well from reviews I’ve done over the years that there may be a historic agreement between the CCG and LA which sees each party pay a 50% share. But CCGs have always suspected that this is often not accurate or ideal, as they are possibly over-funding cases where the patient’s health needs are considered low or moderate. Meanwhile, LAs, who have to budget differently of course, are looking for greater certainty around cost-sharing, and so this issue remains a continuing stress point between the two parties.

“I think everyone knows that a partnership agreement is required to be in place between CCGs and LAs, not least because the regulatory directions in the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and Funded Nursing Care (2018) say so, but I have found that these have so often just not been established, or that they exist but fall into disrepair because they have not been reviewed since their initial conception. It is just a recipe for flashpoints and disagreements or resentment around every package, and it’s so easy to resolve.”

Q. How do you see Liaison Care supporting CCGs and LAs to solve this challenge?

“As a result of this issue emerging time and time again, Liaison Care have developed a cloud-based assessment solution and resource allocation system (RAS) which accurately predicts the costs of care for all adults not eligible for CHC and who are therefore jointly funded by health and social care.

“Through this, we calculate the financial share of responsibility as both a cost and percentage between the CCG and LA, and it’s clear that both parties have found this to be a fair and transparent approach to funding. And by removing the risk of disputes or delays, we are also providing certainty and reliability for all parties.”

Q. What should CCGs or LAs do if they need further help in their joint funding?

“We are already in discussion with so many CCGs, and LAs too, about current joint funding arrangements and I’m always happy to arrange for a demo of the RAS to anyone interested in establishing how they might change the basis of funding going forward. It’s proven to have a very high level of accuracy and takes away so much of that subjectivity, which reduces the stress across the system. I think that’s a benefit everyone could get behind.”

Further information can also be found here or get in touch by email at info@liaisongroup.com or by phone on 0845 603 9000.

Connect with Phil on LinkedIn.