Strength in numbers - MDT working in the independent sector

Independent healthcare providers, like our colleagues in the NHS, want to provide the best possible care for our patients.

And while they say it takes a village to raise a child, it equally takes a clinical “village” to treat a patient. From surgeons to pathologists, oncologists to radiologists, nurses to physios, radiographers to occupational therapists, we are blessed in the independent sector to have some of the best quality healthcare staff in the world. But it’s how they work together that really makes the difference.

The value of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) working is well established in the medical world and for cancer care in particular it is seen as the gold standard. Conversely, the failure to establish appropriate MDT working can have detrimental impacts for patients, as seen in both the NHS and independent sector in the case of Ian Paterson.

As part of IHPN’s ongoing programme of work to identify and share best practice around clinical governance, IHPN have worked with NHS England, the Care Quality Commission (who look at MDT working as part of their inspection process), Royal Colleges, insurers, patient charities and independent providers themselves to produce a toolkit to help independent providers develop, strengthen and improve their approaches to MDTs. This is particularly important in light of the growing use of technology and the move towards virtual and hybrid MDT meetings.

The toolkit can be used by independent providers of all types, sizes and structures, and looks to support the use of MDTs beyond cancer care to a broader range of medical settings. The resource provides key principles to support providers around:

  • identifying when MDT meetings should be carried out in the best interests of patients;
  • what clinicians and providers should consider when setting up and running MDT meetings;

Best practice examples from across the independent sector and wider health service are also set out to stimulate and to support independent providers to further strengthen the governance around their MDTs and develop innovative new approaches. These include exemplars around:

  • MDT working for highly specialised and complex care;
  • Running effective virtual and/or hybrid MDT meetings
  • Engaging patients in the MDT process

Of course, at the heart of MDT working is the patient. IHPN’s toolkit makes clear that patients should be fully aware of any MDT meetings and understand their purpose, its members and their roles. Patients should also be clear about the timeframes for discussion of their case at an MDT meeting, and recommendations made at the meeting should be discussed with the patient to reach a shared decision on the patient’s treatment.

To quote the wise words of Aristotle – ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ – and we therefore hope that all independent healthcare providers find this resource useful and that it supports them to fully utilise all the expertise of their clinical teams in the best interests of patients.

Read “Multidisciplinary Team Working”