Building Health Partnerships: Making the most of partnerships in Bexley


The last blog in our Building Health Partnerships (BHP) programme. Driven by a need to do more with less, Bexley was keen to make the most of their existing assets through improving partnerships and focusing on prevention.

Through the BHP programme, Bexley aimed to increase engagement of GPs and other health providers and commissioners with the wider VCSE sector, and explore co-commissioning and co-design models that ensure provision of community based and preventative interventions. The Bexley partnership is committed to pushing culture change towards more whole systems thinking, and generating evidence that investing in prevention results in both savings at a later stage and better quality of life for residents. To further these aims, the programme focused on four specific streams of work/ initiatives, all of which have seen significant progress: 

  • Holistic diabetes support and prevention
  • Prevention focus around children and families
  • Integrated commissioning approaches
  • VCSE sector, GPs and other health professionals collaborating on prevention.

The impact so far

“For us it's made us look at partnerships very differently”

  • The council is actively redesigning its commissioning so that it lends itself to building capacity in VCSE organisations
  • The VCSE sector is now seen as so vital to their transformation strategy that the CEO of Bexley Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) now co-chairs quarter of the council transformation boards
  • The CCG has co-designed an obesity service with BVSC that is going to be delivered by a partnership of three local VCSE organisations
  • Work has begun on joining up services and approaches to improve the diabetes patient pathway.


As with nearly all local areas Bexley was faced with a decreasing budget and greater demands on their health and care services than ever before. The group were keen to make better use of their existing assets and realised, “that the only way to improve the health and wellbeing of residents is by working together and recognising the value each other brings”.

The group had started to build the foundations of a common vision between the different sectors, with the Health and Well-being Board becoming a strong forumto drive the work forward.

What Bexley did

Four BHP sessions were held in Bexley, with an excellent attendance from across the different sectors; including senior representatives from Public Health, the CCG Board and major VCSE infrastructure, delivery and provider organisations.

These were facilitated sessions bringing together the different health and care initiatives, commissioners and providers from across the sectors. They helped create mutual understanding of what was already happening in Bexley in health and care as well as generating productive conversations between individuals and organisations who had not met before. The sessions were also an opportunity for working groups to focus on specific pieces of work, such as integrated commissioning, leading on prevention and engagement with the voluntary sector.

The BHP group also received expert input from previous BHP participants, Dudley and Salford. Dudley shared their integrated working model and their outcomes measurement system which is used for all service providers commissioned by the CCG. They also heard from Salford on their experience of developing a Social Value Pledge. Both helped to inform the approach Bexley took to their identified work areas.

BHP has already had an impact on the way that the Council and CCG does business; engaging the voluntary sector earlier and ensuring it takes part in the operational development of our business, not just ‘consultingon proposals in the last stage of their development. The council and CCG now sit with GP Practice Managers and GPs on the Primary Care Development Group – allowing the VCSE sector and council to better understand the operational pressures faced by GPs and providing a forum for us to explore solutions together – on social isolation and homeless health in particular.”

Ginny Hyland, Policy and Partnerships Officer, Health Policy Team, London Borough of Bexley

 “We are moving towards a place where we have several examples of where we are doing things differently, with better outcomes for residents, and for less money. Particularly in early help and prevention, dementia and childhood obesity. And because of the conversations that have taken place here, we are clearer about what we want in terms of action, and about doing it together”

Will Tuckley, Chief Executive Bexley CCG

The future

Work is continuing embedding a joint approach to commissioning into systems and delivery. This includes:

  • Revision of our formal HWB partnership structure to re-create the 'thinking space' that the BHP programme gave us. Making it less 'controlled' and more open.


  • Practical work with GPs is getting off the ground – bringing VCSE services into GP practices and looking at creative ways to improve healthcare in primary care.