Group of Londoners triumph  

Whole Systems planning – and how Londoners managed to resist overseas staff

A year ago, patients who live in London were asked to help set up a ‘new way’ of working with and for the elderly;  Whole Systems –  a new idea to join up Health and Social Care for the elderly. .

The NHS called us Patient Reps,  ‘Stakeholders’; giving me visions of being burnt at the stake if I talked out of turn! .  We suspected we were asked so as to tick a   ‘Patient Reps included‘ box.

St Charles Centre For Health & Wellbeing - London, United Kingdom                                                                                                                                        There was to be one centre in Kensington (above), and one in Chelsea                                .

Setting up Whole Systems

At the first meeting the Management Consultants “in charge” bombarded us with statistics, lectured us in acronyms. and bemused with NHS jargon,  Power Point presentations managed to come up with the worst jumble of slides I have ever got cross-eyed trying to decipher, but surrounded by doctors and NHS professionals who seemed to know what it was all about, we assumed everything was OK.

Gradually, as weeks progressed, we started questionning what was happening.  We sat up when it was announced that Whole Systems (WS) would be using American Physician Associates to assess patients.

They weren’t going to prescribe, and we couldn’t see why UK trained staff couldn’t be used. We did question this, but were told there weren’t UK staff available – but had anyone told them that pay was going to be £50k p.a.?

Churchill said America and Britain were two great nations divided by a common language.  and the mind boggled at what would happen when an old dear asked for help with her waterworks ….. let’s not go further.

But It became clear that the Management Consultants tasked with setting up WS didn’t seem to understate what elderly British patients would want – even suggesting if they wanted a cup of tea they would like to leave their comfy chair in Reception, and wander down a long corridor to a quiet room.  We tried to explain that the visit to Whole Systems might be their only outing of the month, so they wouldn’t want to miss any action, but this didn’t find favour with the Management Consultants, who constantly over-rode our suggestions,

Wake Up Call

Suddenly, deep into a bewildering. overcrowded, jargon-filled Power Poimt presentation, we looked at each other – startled,  The Team Leader had announced that the CCG (the gurus who oversee these ideas – known as the Cynical Commissioning Group) had been taken over to the States by the Management Consultants,  All became clear, and we started questioning WHY EMPLOY AMERICANS at £50,000 p.a. for what was a senior nurse post?


We never did find out what Whole Systems was going to cost; each time we questioned, this was brushed aside.  The Consultants didn’t seem worried about containing costs. but stamped on our suggestions to involve Charities providing Specialist Nurses for dementia, cancer, osteoporosis, Parkinsons, etc.  They seemed reluctant to discuss these – and even left unanswered an important email from one of the charities keen to be involved.

Whole Systems was supposed to start September 2015.  The St. Charles Centre (above) in Kensington is finally up and running, but organisers seem reluctant to bring out any of the ‘users’.  Instead they talk about “evaluating” the system using everything from Survey Monkey to Picker – all expensive.  We did suggest sending a car to bring two or three of the old dears to talk about their experience over a cup of tea – but no-one took up this idea.


This has been an eye-opener as a member of the public. In my humble opinion, if the Dept. Health are going to use Management Consultants, at least choose a company that knows how to run meetings,  which hospitals etc. would give meeting rooms for free, how to write Minutes, give presentations, etc

When we had a GP-led session these were led by an excellent local doctor, but his fellow GPs MUST back them up – not just sit saying nothirng and leave early..

We all cringed at garbled Power Point presentations full of jargon, crammed slides, money wasted on paying for unsuitable meeting rooms – and when we discovered an Uber driver ripping off the company, their Consultant was furious when us Reps argued with him to save the NHS money !

But reassuringly “an International expert” from Kaiser Permanente (another American company)  has been here, full of praise with the way the system is running! He’s obviously worth his fee as he can use a crystal ball to see what isn’t yet there.

– for the Future, Take Heart.  If we. speak up we can over-rule crazy ideas proposed NHS Consultant firms.   PEOPLE POWER can work!  Originally there were plans to bring over 200 staff from America – but with Physician Associate Courses on offer in many UK Colleges. there doesn’t seem to be a need – particularly when apparently there is difficulty recruiting in the US.

Currently, the NHS is being coy about numbers attending the first centre, and the second centre is still waiting to open – eight months late.


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