Better Care for All


A partnership between The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

About the Black Country Alliance


The Black Country Alliance is a partnership between The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust. Our aims are to improve health outcomes, improve people’s experience of healthcare and maximise the resources available so that together we can do even more for the people of the Black Country with what we have.

Together the three Trusts serve a population of over 1 million people. The scale and size of the organisations is significant and creates new opportunities for the development of specialist care, research, education and employment within the Black Country, which might not be possible separately.

The Black Country Alliance was launched on Black Country Day, 14th July 2015, following approval by all three Trust Boards at the beginning of July 2015. It is governed through a joint board of Chairs and Chief Executives who are overseeing a small number of priority projects.

The three partner organisations are similar in that both are integrated care organisations, but each has its’ own uniqueness and local partnerships that will continue.

News


UK’s first Health Research Bus appears for the first time in Sandwell

The first ever UK Health Research Bus (HRB) will be appearing at Sandwell Hospital on the 10th September 2015, as a key part of activities planned by the Black Country Alliance.

The Black Country Alliance (BCA) partnership, which includes Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH), has agreed with the University of Birmingham to host the health research bus on the Black Country Alliance Trusts’ sites for the next twelve months.

The aim is to promote clinical research by engaging directly with the public and help the BCA partner health Trusts to recruit participants for their research with more flexibility.

The Health Research Bus is a pioneering mobile clinical research facility that aims to increase public engagement in clinical research. The bus is fully equipped to perform a wide range of clinical studies with state-of-the-art facilities including a £100,000 DXA scanner that can be used for measuring body composition and bone mineral density. It also contains rooms for taking blood samples, and providing minor treatments and procedures. The bus will help scientists to engage with a large and diverse population in the Black Country and enable researchers to study health conditions specific to the area. The bus was funded through the Birmingham Science City Translational Medicine programme, with support from InnovateUK. It is managed by the National Institute for Health Research / Wellcome Trust Birmingham Clinical Research Facility (CRF) along with the University of Birmingham.

Professor Chris Buckley, Director of the NIHR/ Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility said: “The bus will be a crucial way to increase the numbers of patients taking part in clinical studies and ensure that results are implemented quickly to improve the health of patients.”

Terry Whalley, BCA Programme Director, said: “The Black Country Alliance, a new model of acute care collaboration between Dudley, Sandwell and West Birmingham and Walsall Trusts, is committed to finding ways to improve high quality clinical research and to translating that research into practice for the benefit of the people we serve in the Black Country.

“The BCA is partnering with the NIHR-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility and the University of Birmingham to pilot the use of the Health Research Bus which we believe will extend the reach of existing clinical research into areas currently not able to participate, and encourage new research initiatives to be undertaken within the Black Country. This is an exciting opportunity for us to do so and to show the early benefits to patients and Trust colleagues of working together within The Black Country Alliance.”

Professor David Adams, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Head of College and Dean of Medicine, at the University of Birmingham commented: ‘The Black Country Alliance is an exciting development for the region and one we are seeking to support. We are delighted to use the Health Research Bus to advertise the research collaborations we are developing with the Alliance. These will promote research activity across the region bringing the benefits of research to thousands of patients across the West Midlands.”

Professor Karim Raza, Director of Research and Development at SWBH, explained why this is a beneficial project for local communities: “The Health Research Bus will be used to support a number of research studies at the Trust including in Cardiology, Rheumatology and Metabolic medicine and extends the close collaboration between SWBH and the University of Birmingham. Over the course of the next year it is hoped that the Health Research Bus will play a key role in the delivery of the Research Strategy within the Black Country Alliance.”



Health watchdogs welcome trust link-up to aid patients

Health watchdogs have welcomed a link-up of trusts which bosses say will mean fewer patients needing to go outside the Black Country for treatment.

Bosses at health trusts in Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall have formed the new Black Country Alliance.

Between The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, they cater for more than a million people and have more than 10,000 staff.

Rupy Pandaal, chairman for Healthwatch Walsall, said: “Healthwatch Walsall believes greater collaborative working is essential and inevitable to provide people with the health and care services they need, and to response to the level of demands being experienced currently.

“This is an exciting opportunity for people living in Walsall, for the local NHS trust to collaborate and provide services that people need locally and to retain those skilled services to avoid people having to travel outside of the area.

“Healthwatch Walsall will continue to work with the Walsall NHS Trust and the new Black Country Alliance to ensure patient experience and patient outcomes continue to improve across all services, especially where delivered under the new Black Country Alliance partnership arrangements.”



Three NHS Trusts launch significant alliance on Black Country Day

Three innovative NHS trusts have launched a new working partnership in the Black Country. The Black Country Alliance, launched on Tuesday 14th July to join in with the celebrations for Black Country Day, is a partnership agreement between Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

The three Trusts feel that together they can improve health outcomes for the 1m plus people who use their services in the Black Country in a sustainable way. There is greater potential in some services for excellence and sustainability when provided on a larger scale than a local hospital can provide on its own. One of the aims of the Alliance is to keep and further develop specialist services for the Black Country.

The Alliance will look at new ways of providing care to patients across the Black Country, keeping care closer to home and ensuring specialist skills are kept in the Black Country. At a time when the NHS is struggling financially to meet demand, the trusts involved are taking a new approach to seek solutions.

Paula Clark, Chief Executive of The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust said, “This is a really exciting time for all three trusts as we aim to be able to keep and return specialist services to the Black Country for our patients, who may otherwise have to go to a larger Trust further afield to receive treatment. It offers opportunities to our staff through collaborative working, we will encourage innovative ways to provide the best possible care, developing centres of excellence in the Black Country.

“We will not be looking at all of our services for example there will still be an accident and emergency departments and maternity units across all trusts, but for some of the more specialist services we will be able to ensure a future in the Black Country or even reinstate them through the Alliance.”

Richard Kirby, Chief Executive, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said “NHS England is encouraging provider trusts to investigate new models of care and the Black Country Alliance is the first of kind. Working closely with the two other Trusts we have been looking at how we can develop a partnership based on our shared values and approach to help us to develop services in the future for the people that we serve..

This Alliance offers opportunities to our staff through collaborative working, we will encourage innovative ways to provide the best possible care, developing centres of excellence in the Black Country. This is an exciting time for all three trusts as we aim to be able to keep and return specialist services to the Black Country for our patients, who may otherwise have to go to a larger Trust further afield to receive treatment”

Toby Lewis, Chief Executive, Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is a landmark announcement. We share a common purpose, common values and together recognise the huge potential to improve outcomes for local people. Specialist care, education and research lie at the heart of our long-term collaboration.”

The Black Country Alliance is governed though a joint public board to oversee a small number of priority areas where all three trusts think there is value in redesigning or developing that service. For example we have some specialist areas that are hard to recruit too especially if you are a smaller general hospital, so working across the three trusts provides the scale the specialists need to keep skills up to date and develops services further.

Black Country Alliance Board Meeting Dates


Date of meeting:Time of public meeting: Venue: Expec. cut off date for papersDownload board papersDownload board minutes
13.04.16 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 06.04.16 Download Board PapersDownload Board Minutes
11.05.16 10:30am – 11:30am Nurses Training Room, Ground Floor, Trust Headquarters, Sandwell Hospital 04.05.16Download Board PapersDownload Board Minutes
08.06.16 10:30am – 11:30am Seminar Room, Trust HQ, Second Floor, South Block, Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley 01.06.16Download Board PapersDownload Board Minutes
13.07.16 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 06.07.16Download Board PapersDownload Board Minutes
12.10.16 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 05.10.16Download Board PapersDownload Board Minutes
09.11.16 10:30am – 11:15am Nurses Training Room, Ground Floor, Trust Headquarters, Sandwell Hospital 02.11.16Download Board Papers
14.12.16 10:30am – 11:30am Seminar Room, Trust HQ, Second Floor, South Block, Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley 07.12.16
11.01.17 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 04.01.17
08.02.17 10:30am – 11:30am Sandwell 01.02.17
08.03.17 10:30am – 11:30am Dudley 01.03.17
12.04.17 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 05.04.17
10.05.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 03.05.17
10.05.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 03.05.17
14.06.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 07.06.17
12.07.17 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 05.07.17
09.08.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 02.08.17
13.09.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 06.09.17
11.10.17 10:30am – 11:30am Room 10, 3rd Floor MLCC, Walsall Healthcare 04.10.17
08.11.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 01.01.17
13.12.17 10:30am – 11:30am TBC 06.12.17

Black Country Alliance Partners


The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust sits at the heart of the Black Country and participates in a number of clinical networks and collaborations with neighbouring healthcare related organisations.

The Trust is the hub site for the Black Country Vascular Network working with both the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trusts, which serve the majority of the Black Country population. Currently, Ear Nose and Throat services are provided in collaboration with the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Ophthalmology Services with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust. Cancer services are largely provided in collaboration with Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust with additional clinical links to other tertiary referral centers including University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

The Trust itself provides a stem cell transplant service for haematology malignancies. It is also part of the Dudley health and social care economy's Vanguard programme. This is a Multi Specialty Community provider Vanguard project and, although in its infancy, partners are already moving forward with Multi-Disciplinary Team integration at GP practice and locality level. The Trust works with Wolverhampton University for nurse training and with other local universities for training of AHPs. It is also a teaching hospital for medical students in partnership with the University of Birmingham and is an active participant in Clinical Research Networks - West Midlands. It is envisaged that existing partnerships, collaborations and relationships will continue as the Trust moves forward with the Black Country Alliance.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust works closely with a number of universities across Birmingham and the Black Country.

The Trust provides community services in Sandwell, but works collaboratively with both GP groups and the Birmingham Community Trust to provide care in the city. They are a founder member of the current vanguard bid around the Vitality partnership. They have joint working arrangements with the Children’s Hospital, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trusts and have formal partnering arrangements at Board level with both mental health Trusts.

The Trust offers regional eye care and women’s cancer care for the West Midlands, and provides national centres for Behcets disease and toxicology. The Trust continues to serve almost 200,000 people in Birmingham. There is no expectation that this will change; indeed the Trust has recently invested in services in West Birmingham to strengthen links there.

When the new Midland Met Hospital opens in 2018, significant services will be retained on the current City Hospital and Sandwell General Hospital sites.

Walsall Healthcare Trust

Walsall Healthcare is working with Walsall CCG, Walsall Council, Walsall’s two newly created GP-provider federations and Dudley & Walsall Mental Health NHS Trust to develop a Walsall Integrated Care System. This is initially focussed on providing more care at home for frail older people but will be extended to other client groups as the work develops. Given that Sandwell & West Birmingham and Dudley have similar ambitions, it anticipated that shared learning through the Alliance could strengthen the delivery of local integrated care ambition.

The Trust is also part of a set of clinical networks with other specialist providers in the region including cancer, cardiac, renal, vascular and trauma networks with pathways linked to specialist services at UHB, Royal Wolverhampton and Heart of England trusts.

Walsall Healthcare is also exploring a hyper-acute stroke partnership with Royal Wolverhampton as one option in the light of the regional stroke review. It is envisaged that where it is clinically right for the people served Walsall Healthcare will continue to be part of specialist clinical networks outside of the Black Country Alliance. The Trust works closely with the University of Wolverhampton and would again expect to continue to do so.

Want to learn more, read our FAQ's

The Black Country Alliance is a group of NHS healthcare providers who have made an agreement to work in partnership with one another to provide the best possible care and services for the people they serve. The Black Country Alliance is made up of The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.

The three Trusts feel that together they can improve health outcomes for the 1m plus people in the Black Country in a sustainable way. There is greater potential in some services for excellence and sustainability when provided on a larger scale than a local hospital can provide on its own.

The Black Country Alliance will at its heart have a ‘triple aim’,

  1. Improve Health Outcomes for the million or so people in the Black Country served by the three Partner Trusts
  2. Improve the experience of Healthcare, not just for the people we serve but for our colleagues who deliver the healthcare
  3. Reduce healthcare costs so that we can make the most of our collective resources

No. The Black Country Alliance is not about merging the three trusts; it is about finding solutions to ensure the people of the Black Country continue to receive the best possible care, by the experts in their field, as locally as is possible.

The Black Country Alliance will undertake work determined by all three Partner Trusts and only work determined by all three Partner Trusts. All three Partner Trusts are joint and equal partners and have the right individually to veto proposals emerging as the work progresses within the Black Country Alliance if they so choose.

No, the Black Country Alliance is not about merging the three trusts or in any way anti-competitive; it is about finding solutions to ensure the people of the Black Country continue to receive the best possible care, by the experts in their field, as locally as it possible. At the heart of the Alliance is a shared ambition to improve health outcomes for the million or so people we collectively serve, to improve the healthcare experience of patients and also our colleagues who deliver that care and finally, to make the best use of the resources we have in the face of rising demand. We will, through our alliance, be exploring what amounts to a new model of acute care collaboration. This is exactly what the Five Year Forward View and the Dalton Review have asked the NHS to act upon. The three trusts will remain distinct entities in their own right, retain their independence from one another and continue to provide care to their local populations. The Black Country Alliance is not mutually exclusive either, all three trusts will continue with or enter into agreements with other organisations should they wish to.

The Black Country Alliance is initially a programme of work being run jointly by the three partner Trusts with the vast majority of the work being done by clinical, operational and management colleagues already employed by those Trusts. Where any additional investment is required, a value case will be considered by the Black Country Alliance Board, in the same way any other proposed investment would be considered by any of the Trusts, to ensure best use is made of the resources the Trusts have. The Black Country Alliance is considered by all three trusts to be a vital component of their long term strategies to secure clinical and financial sustainability, and any investment made is expected to have a positive return on clinical and / or financial outcomes.

Get in touch


If you have any questions about the Black Country Alliance, or you would like to find out more.