Thinking about the IISaM project in a wider context: MOPAN conference at Newcastle University

Throughout the IISaM project, we have been keen to learn from the experiences of others, whether to understand and share good practice or to develop case studies.  Indeed, the ‘information sharing journey’ framework which we have used as a basis for the toolkit came from research undertaken on behalf of DCLG a few years ago.  We have picked up learning from the FAME project, which provided a framework for the development of multi-agency collaboration; and we’ve worked closely with Dr Sue Richardson from Bradford University’s Business School, as she and her colleague Prof Nick Frost have developed and delivered a project on the Effective and Appropriate Sharing of Information (or EASI, for short).

Newcastle University Business School. Image by ashleyhwright via Flickr Creative Commons.
Newcastle University Business School. Image by ashleyhwright via Flickr Creative Commons.

Having learnt lots from these other sources, IISaM also wants to try and share some of our own learning with this academic audience, and so I was delighted to spend a day in Newcastle attending the MOPAN conference.  MOPAN – Multi Organisational Partnerships, Alliances and Networks – is a conference which looks at the factors affecting how organisations and individuals work together.  The success of Whole Place Community Budgets, the work of the Public Service Transformation Network and the demand for greater integration of health and social care services are just a few examples of the kinds of collaborations which are of interest.  Hosted this year at Newcastle University, I was invited to attend by Dr Rob Wilson, who had previously been involved with the FAME project.

I was joined by Dr Sue Richardson and together we presented a paper (Still Joining Up? Partnerships, collaborations, networks for health and local government:  Supporting Public Services to Improve the Sharing of Service User Information) on a partnership of many layers.  The EASI project builds on Dr Richardson’s doctoral research into information sharing behaviour, leading to the development of multi-agency training sessions which explore approaches to confidentiality and build trust between individuals.  IISaM was one of the partners which has supported EASI (along with the ESRC, Bradford Council and University of Bradford).  IISaM is itself a partnership project, seeking to share learning and expertise across the pilot sites.  And I spoke in more detail about my experiences at Leicestershire, as an observer and as an actor as the county council and its partners developed a multi agency information sharing hub.


The session in which Sue and I spoke was a fascinating opportunity to step back and see the work of IISaM in a longer term context.  Of particular interest was the presentation by Penny Hill, “Transforming policy into partnership?  Factors challenging the structuration of multi-agency care services”.  Penny used her experience in the design and delivery of social care services to talk about the influences on change programmes, which is really pertinent given the recent reorganisation within the NHS, and the impetus to integrate social care services more effectively to relieve the pressure on acute health services such as A&E.  Penny described the need to address processes, practices and organisational culture in order to make system change successful, which would sound familiar to anyone who has attended an IISaM training session or presentation over the last year!

As IISaM evolves over the coming months, we’ll be looking again at how we work with our colleagues in the academic community, to ensure we make the most of these sorts of opportunities.  The MOPAN conference was a great start, and we’ll be doing our best to make sure that links like these are nurtured, so that academics and practitioners can both benefit.