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Our work
Our work

Designing a new learning network for hospital groups

We helped design, and then support the running of, a new learning network between a number of major NHS Trusts: the ‘Association of Health and Care Provider Groups’.

The challenge

Three of the trusts involved – Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – along with a fourth, the ‘MSB group’ in Essex, wanted to continue to collaborate and share further learnings.

Through the NHS England ‘Vanguard’ programme, significant learning and relationships were built up between a number of organisations developing ‘acute care collaborations’ between NHS acute trusts. However, there was no structure to continue these relationships at the end of the programme. Given the focus of the relationships was Chief Executives, time and competing priorities meant that any new network had to be focused and add value immediately.

Our approach

Kaleidoscope worked with the four organisations to design what the Association of Health and Care Provider Groups should focus on, how it should operate, and an evaluation approach. Our approach was built on using learning network best practice in a very specific NHS context.

This included:

  • a set of interviews with the chief executives
  • facilitating a programme of learning events with chief executives and strategy leads
  • delivering a theory of change co-design workshop to establish the intended functioning of the network
  • producing a wider evaluation framework, using network members’ views on how the network would be most useful to construct a framework of qualitative indicators that could be used to assess and guide network activity.

We also supported the production of a network manifesto, designing of a brand identity for the Association, and a launch event for 50 senior executives from across the trusts.

Following the completion of the design process, Kaleidoscope continued to run a number of meetings for the Association’s chief executives, enabling learning to be shared, and shared workstreams agreed and developed. Throughout the process, we also ensured there was time to reflect on the purpose, priorities and method behind the network, and this learning was used to build a stronger network.


The Association of Health and Care Provider Groups has been running for over a year, is on to its sixth learning event, and continues to add value for chief executives and strategy leads. The learning network has enabled its members to make faster progress in developing their hospital ‘group’ models than they would otherwise have been able.

Some 93% of attendees at the launch event found the case made for the Association ‘convincing’ or ‘highly convincing’, particularly citing opportunities for sharing, learning, and influencing. At the last facilitated chief executives network meeting in October 2018, 100% of attendees strongly agreed the day had been a useful way to spend their time, and 90% strongly agreed the purpose for the Association was right.

We’ve all been involved in collaborations which haven’t worked. Kaleidoscope has helped the Association of Groups develop in a way which has avoided the pitfalls and achieved the benefits of systematically working together. Kaleidoscope has enabled us to have workshops and events which are interactive, insightful, and even a little bit fun.

Sir David Sloman, when Chief Executive, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Working with Richard and Kaleidoscope has really helped generate a helpful and healthy balance between free form discussion, structured conversation and decision making. He’s created an environment where everyone is able to contribute equally and openly, which has been critical to our ability to work together effectively.

Amanda Pritchard, when Chief Executive, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

After the Vanguard programme ended we wanted to continue the productive habit of shared learning we had established. Rich is a skilled facilitator who created a safe space for that learning, working with some of the most prominent Chief Executives in the NHS. He provided a structure for us to think carefully about what we really wanted to achieve with our network, and he brought his own deep understanding of networks to the table in a really helpful way. We are looking forward to working with Kaleidoscope further as our Association develops.

Ron Agble, Director of Partnerships and Transactions, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Our work

A little something else? If you found this of interest, then we’d suggest taking a look at some related items. And when you’re ready to chat, you can get in touch.