'Working the system'. Achieving change through partnership working: an evaluation of cancer partnership groups

Health Expect. 2005 Sep;8(3):210-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2005.00332.x.


Aims and objectives: To investigate the characteristics and achievements of cancer partnership groups--collaborative service improvement groups formed of NHS staff and service users--in the 34 cancer networks in England, and in particular to explore the influence that such groups had on local cancer services.

Design: A qualitative approach employing a structured telephone survey, face-to-face interviews and documentary analysis.

Participants and setting: Thirty cancer networks in England with an active Partnership Group completed the telephone survey. From these 30 networks, six networks were subsequently selected from which service users and NHS professionals involved in partnership groups and NHS professionals who were non-members were recruited to take part in face-to-face interviews.

Results and conclusions: Partnership groups were established in the majority of cancer networks. Typically, these groups were at network level, been established for less than a year, met once every 2 months, and were populated with both service users and health-care professionals. Five common activities and achievements were identified: establishment of the group itself; acting as a 'reference' group for consultation; networking and representation on other groups; patient information and communication and proactive influencing. Activities progressed in scale and complexity as groups evolved. Groups had learnt the basics of change management and some identified a more sophisticated understanding of change processes in the NHS as essential for the group's motivation and survival. When gauging the impact of involvement strategies it would seem important to subscribe to broad indicators of success that include both process and outcome measures.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Care Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Cancer Care Facilities / standards
  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Community Networks / standards
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • England
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Regional Medical Programs / organization & administration*
  • Regional Medical Programs / standards
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*
  • State Medicine / standards