THE LEADERS of a new alliance that will oversee community based health care services, for adults in Sunderland have been appointed this month.

All Together Better is a new alliance that will officially launch in April, taking on responsibility for all out-of-hospital care for people aged 18 and over in Sunderland.  The Alliance will focus on providing person centred proactive and coordinated care which will support appropriate use of health and care services, will improve patient and carer experience and outcomes, ensuring people will live longer with better quality of life.

Philip Foster, Chief Operating Officer of Sunderland Care and Support, and Martin Weatherhead, a practising GP from the city, have been appointed as managing director and chair of the All Together Better Alliance board respectively.

The decision to set up a formal Alliance was taken by commissioners Sunderland CCG and Sunderland City Council, and health and social care providers last year, following public engagement to make sure people were supportive of the approach.  

The Alliance model means that different providers will effectively actlike one organisation without being one.  It will have overall responsibility for all care for people aged 18 or over, apart from acute in-patient hospital care.  This will see everything from GP and district nursing, mental health services, therapies, urgent care and Recovery at Home fall under the Alliance, which will have an overall budget of around £240million. 

Mr Foster leaves his full-time role at the end of February to take responsibility for the new alliance, which will look to build on an NHS England funded new model of care programme, known as a ‘vanguard’, which was implemented in Sunderland with the aim of establishing new ways of working that enhanced the care given to the most vulnerable people.  

With Martin and Philip at the helm, the All Together Better Alliance will now look to ensure that the care system is fit for the future, meeting Sunderland’s needs and delivering the effective, efficient and seamless care that the people of Sunderland expect.

Philip, who has worked in Social Care in Sunderland for over 38 years said: “I have been privileged to be involved in the Vanguard programme  since its inception, so moving over to the new organisation and taking it forward was a very natural step – a natural progression for me. Our community health and care system has some fantastic services, many innovative others traditional but strong with a highly skilled, experienced and committed workforce of fantastic quality. I am looking forward to delivering closer integration between services in the community with the aim of promoting health and wellbeing, delivering quality care for patients, and ensuring sustainability of the local system.

Dr Martin Weatherhead, who previously chaired the GP Alliance in Sunderland, is a GP in Southwick.  Like Philip, he has been fully involved over many years in developing integrated services and will also take up his role officially in April. 

Martin, who was born and raised in the city, said: “I think it is really important that local people are provided a service that, really, they deserve.  We have tried in the past to provide first class service, and individual organisations and providers have given elements of care that are first-class, but it is never going to be as good as it could be unless we all work together.  

“I feel quite privileged to be in this role, because I am sure we can make a difference. We have bold ambitions for the future and we now have to work together to make sure that they are attained.”