BackgroundThis paper places the importance of evidence-based models of inter-professional education (IPE) within the context of a changing National Health Service (NHS). The coalition government has placed integrated care at the heart of its vision for England’s health system. Its principles are to put patients at the centre of the NHS, empower clinicians to lead commissioning and change the emphasis of measurement to quality clinical outcomes. As a result, NHS services are being increasingly tendered along evidence-based care pathways and commissioners are introducing payment by results tariffs, requiring providers to achieve quality outcomes as a requirement of full payment. Aim We argue that in preparing the health and social care workforce for outcome-based practice, the development of technical skills should be complemented with skills for effective team working and collaborative practice. MethodsThis paper shares the achievements of the Leicester Model of IPE which is underpinned by theoretical models of learning and implemented entirely in clinical practice; mixed research methods demonstrate that its learning potential is as relevant today as when it was first implemented in 1996. ResultsOur extensive research evidence demonstrates that students and healthcare professionals undertaking these programmes are enabled to perceive care pathways from service and providers perspectives; they gain valuable insights into how teams balance task- and patient-related issues, offer clarity about the team’s effectiveness and gain new insights into collaborative opportunities to address patients’ needs. ConclusionWe demonstrate that models such as ours offer evidence-based solutions which will support the achievement of quality outcomes for service providers, many of whom are reviewing their business plans to address the financial implications of payment by results. The current NHS reforms provide a hugely important lever in which IPE can come of age – in return we need to ensure that our NHS colleagues are informed of its potential.
A Lennox, ES Anderson