Clinical networksBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7329.63 (Published 12 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:63
Advantages include flexibility, strength, speed, and focus on clinical issues
- Nigel Edwards, policy director (Nigel.firstname.lastname@example.org)
- NHS Confederation, London SW1E 5ER
The NHS seems fond of structural solutions to its problems, even though experience suggests that reorganisation is a distraction, fails to solve the problems it was supposed to address, and creates new ones. Seasoned NHS observers might therefore be sceptical of the growing interest in clinical networks. There are certainly reasons for caution but clinical networks do seem to offer several important advantages to patients and clinicians.
The Scottish Office defines managed clinical networks as “linked groups of health professionals and organisations from primary, secondary, and tertiary care working in a co-ordinated manner, unconstrained by existing professional and [organisational] boundaries to ensure equitable provision of high quality effective services.” Their report contrasted these with loose networks and suggests that they differ from hub and spoke models in that the interests of the network would dominate those of individual hospitals. 1 2 These networks may be grouped by function (for example, pathology, emergency medicine, critical care) or client group (children), disease (cancer, renal) or specialty (vascular surgery).