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research report

We're better together

How the health sector has worked in partnership during the Covid-19 crisis

November 2020

Sonakshi Anand, Rebecca Moran


This report shares eight factors that have enabled health partnerships to respond effectively to Covid-19. Previous barriers to the NHS, councils and the voluntary sector working together – such as information governance, organisational boundaries or agendas, and lack of trust – were removed, or set aside, in order to respond swiftly to a ‘tsunami of need’. The research is based on learning from 11 partnerships in different areas of England, who took part in the Building Health Partnerships programme. 


As a result of working together, health partnerships:


  • Reached the most isolated and vulnerable community members
  • Protected against overwhelming demand on statutory health services
  • Improved referral pathways and access to services
  • Provided a more focused/targeted response when required
  • Ensured that services meet local needs
  • Distributed information to communities quickly and efficiently
  • Built on, and made best use of, community assets (e.g. volunteers)
  • Ensured the right people are at the decision-making table.


‘Without the third sector, Wirral wouldn’t have been able to cope and mitigate against the impact of Covid-19 the way it has.’


Who is the report for? 

The report is aimed at anyone interested in building cross-sector relationships to improve local health and care outcomes – NHS systems (particularly ICS/STP leads and PCNs), commissioners, clinicians, local authorities and professionals from the VCSE sector.


(We're better together - IVAR and SEUK - November 2020 - FINAL)

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