April 2022

Welcome to our April Newsletter:


The Midlands Decision Support Network is entering its third year in 2022/23, with 11 systems and NHSE/I continuing to work together in the region to learn from one another and collaborate on developing the capacity, capability and culture needed to improve strategic decision-making. 
2022/23 will also see the formal establishment of ICSs across the region. The network will be a vital source of support in implementing population health management approaches at system level and identifying and responding to health inequalities. It will also be key to meeting the requirements of forthcoming NHSE/I guidance on intelligence functions; indeed, our arrangement is highlighted as a leading example of the type of regional networked approach that is expected to support local systems in their efforts.
In this newsletter, we highlight upcoming training opportunities, outputs of the regional analytical programme that members prioritise and an update from our professional communities of practice.


Upcoming courses:

'Thinking Tools': a one-day training workshop - one day workshop 09/05 or 18/05
Communication Skills Series - run over three half days in April and May
Theory of constraints for patient flow course - one day course in June and October
For more information, contact Rachel Caswell

Intelligence function design workshops

We have been running local workshops with our systems to support their integrated intelligence function development. The objectives of these workshops are: 
  • consider the national NHSE/I guidance on integrated intelligence functions
  • assess the progress that has already been made in the system
  • consider what the system needs to do to move forwards
  • consider the barriers to moving forwards 
  • start to consider the next steps to move towards a Decision Support Unit
We have held workshops in Birmingham and Solihull, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire with more planned in 2022/23

For more information, please contact Gareth Wrench

Regional analytics:




Midlands analysts network

Rachel hosts a fortnightly online Huddle on MS Teams. The Huddles cover a large range of topics and you are very welcome to join one at any time – for quick access to a Huddle, just follow this link
  • Andi Orlowski (Health Economics Unit) PHM impactability
  • Monitoring maternity and building links with other analysts in maternity
  • Steven Wyatt (Chief Analyst, Strategy Unit) shares his strategies to reduce inequities in planned hospital procedures MDSN project
  • System dynamics model of the respiratory community response
We would love to showcase your work. The huddles are an informal space to share your work with like-minded analysts working on similar topics. If you have any projects that you want to share please get in touch.

For more information contact Rachel Caswell

Knowledge Mobilisation Community of Practice

In January we published two new guides for the knowledge mobilisation community of practice.  You can read more about our insight to action work from three blogs by Lucy Hawkins: 
  1. Insight to Action Blog #1: From translation to application
  2. Insight to Action Blog #2: Conversations between decision makers and analysts
  3. Insight to Action Blog #3: Insight to Action: it’s a community effort
The focus of the CoP is co-ordinating and sharing evidence work to minimise duplication across the network. 

For more information contact Alison Turner

Evaluation Community of Practice

The last Evaluation Community of Practice was held on 29th March 22, where Lisa Cummins from the Health Economics Unit (and Evaluation CoP member) presented the ‘Challenges of carrying out economic evaluation locally’. Lisa went through an introduction to economic evaluation and gave an example of a recent project, highlighting the challenges and limitations. Copies of the papers and slides can be found below:

The next meeting will be held on 24th May 22 at 10.30am.

For more information contact Paul Mason

Shaping the findings from the 2021/22 analytical projects:  

In March we held two sessions to share initial findings from our analytical projects. The first looking at how growth in diagnostic testing is affecting NHS practice and the pressures experienced in this area. And the second testing the findings from our strategies to reduce health inequalities in planned hospital care report. Thank you to all who attended, the discussions and feedback will help to shape our final reports.

These sessions were held as part of our Insight to Action work, through which we are developing a process to support ICS decision makers who want to improve their use of analysis and evidence. In developing this we are keen to hear from systems earlier in the analytical process to better understand how our work could be used. We also have an offer of support, post publication, for systems who want to think through the findings in more detail and actions that they might take in response. Details to follow shortly!


The Team: 
Programme Director: Simon Bourne 
Local System Lead: Gareth Wrench
Chief Analyst: Steven Wyatt
Evaluation Lead: Paul Mason
Evidence Lead: Alison Turner
Training and Development Programme Manager: Rachel Caswell
Programme Manager: David Callaghan
Programme Support Officers: Deb Mabbley, Charlotte Henderson

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