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I’ve spent the last few weeks talking to various Managing Directors and Bid Managers who respond to tenders around healthy living, integrated lifestyles, long-term condition management, public health. I have also been invited to numerous ‘market sounding’ events run by local authorities - often in partnership with their CCG colleagues. For too long now I have become frustrated that these organisations don’t ‘think digital’ in the way they commission these services, but I think I have woken up. This was my shortcoming - not theirs.

I think I may be too digital for my own good; that is a badge of shame, not honour. I spend way too much time on my phone, my laptop, tablet. It consumes so much of my day that I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that everyone does the same and I think I may have allowed it to skew my thinking around how we best share some of the work that we have done at Kirklees Council through LookingLocal.

It’s simply no good having something digital to offer in isolation - digital should be blended into real services on the ground, but only where digital improves the offer to the user. I know this of course - it’s not exactly news but nonetheless our efforts to share our work have not been previously focused in this way.

Most recently I was invited to go along to a market sounding event on the South Coast - being run by one of the local authorities there. Fortunately, the invitation that went out to all potential providers cc’d all the recipients and I was able to ‘reply to all’ - telling anyone that wanted to listen that we wouldn’t and couldn’t lead a response to a full healthy lifestyle tender. I told them that I don’t have people on the ground able to help reduce levels of obesity, or smoking. I don’t have behavioural change specialists on call to sit in front of patients, needing to learn to live with long-term heart disease. Our strength lies in supporting those who do have these capabilities with the right digital technology. No big surprise that the organisations that do have these resources in abundance are not digital specialists. Horses for courses.

And from this some interesting public:private partnerships are now developing. We’ll see where they go but the potential is starting to reveal itself. Who would have thought that a commercial provider of health and care services would team up with a local authority owned digital development team from Yorkshire to deliver a transformed health living services for people in the Midlands?

I’m not one for politics but it strikes me that there is still mileage in organisations collaborating together - including those that cross the public and private sector divide. More to follow.

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