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Our route map - The BGS's new three year strategic plan

One of the core responsibilities of the Trustee Board and Chief Executive is to ensure that the organisation has a sense of direction, with a workable plan to address not just the most important current challenges but also those anticipated in the foreseeable future.

With this in mind our Trustee Board has agreed a new 3-year strategic plan to guide the Society’s development for the period 2014/5 – 2016/7. Its three big aims are to increase geriatricians’ influence in policy debates, improve support to members, and expand and diversify our membership, attracting more nurses, AHPs and GPs.  

The backdrop

The fact that we have an ageing population is cause for celebration but undoubtedly presents major challenges and opportunities for health and social care provision for those with a multiplicity of needs. Older, frail patients with complex, multiple long-term conditions are the main patient group cared for by the NHS and, against a backdrop of cost pressures and reductions in most areas of public expenditure, it is critically important to our members and the communities they serve that we deploy our expertise to ensure the best possible care for vulnerable individuals and find new solutions to familiar social problems including the need to achieve better integration of social care and primary and acute health care. 

Our response

The Society unites specialists in all aspects of health care for older people across all nations of the UK, and as such it has huge potential as a source of expertise in addressing these longstanding challenges. The key themes of the Society’s new strategy are to increase our ability to engage intelligently with the formulation of relevant public policy; to further enhance our support to our members, and to expand and diversify our membership so that it is more multi-disciplinary. These three strategic objectives are supported by two supporting ‘back office’ objectives: continuing the process of strengthening our own governance and taking steps to ensure that we get the most from our staff secretariat team.

Thus, our five strategic objectives for the coming three years are as follows:     

To increase our influence in relevant policy debates 

With political and economic circumstances still volatile, a looming referendum on Scottish independence and a general election around the corner, all spelling continuing upheaval in health and social care, there has never been a more important time to make a strong case for high quality geriatric care. The BGS is already highly active in policy debates, but we need to achieve more impact from this work, be more on the front foot, position ourselves as the ‘go-to guys and gals’ for policymakers and media on the issues we care most about, and strengthen our alliances with other societies and third sector organisations with whom we can make common cause.  

Over the next few years we will also focus our policy work on the following four big themes: Care for older people in hospital; Integration, community and primary care; Workforce, skills and training, and Shaping policy through the promotion of best practice.

In the wake of the Francis report and a number of other high profile initiatives, the BGS and geriatric medicine has a central role in what is increasingly core business for acute hospitals - the care of frail older people with complex needs. Our members are overseeing much of the acute care within hospitals and are also critical to delivering some of the aims of the Future Hospital Commission. Many of the issues around safety and quality of inpatient care are predominantly ones concerning the care of our oldest inpatients and we have a key role in delivering solutions.

There is growing interest in all four nations in integration, prevention, proactive care and care outside hospitals. Our members have a vital role in ensuring more older people who present at hospital are assessed and discharged promptly and that they stay no longer in acute beds than is necessary. They are also often system leaders collaborating closely with local partners from primary, community and social care, from the voluntary sector and from mental health services for older people. They are also often involved in intermediate care services and a growing number of geriatricians now have job plans which are substantively community based. We also provide medical input to long-term care facilities. So BGS and geriatrics has a key policy voice across this broad agenda.

In order to deliver the vision of more care closer to home, we need a workforce with the right skills, training and flexibility in community settings. Although geriatrics is the largest specialty in the RCP, there will never be enough geriatricians to look after all older people. Moreover, the care of older people requires skilled multidisciplinary teamwork involving nurses and allied health professionals and high quality primary care. Also, other clinicians in acute hospitals often look after older people with frailty, dementia or complex co-morbidities. The BGS not only has a major role in medical workforce planning of trainees and consultants but in helping education and training for primary care clinicians, community staff, care home workers, nurses and AHPs, and in developing the evidence base around quality and variation in intermediate care services. 

To improve our support to members in all regions of England and in the devolved nations

The Society’s raison d’etre is to provide our members with the support they need to provide excellent care. As a multi-nation membership body which delivers much of its service output remotely, communications is a critical area. Improving support to members depends upon us developing effective systems to capture and track the needs and wants of people whose time to provide feedback is very limited. We will commission, through tendering, a member services and communications review from an external agency with proven expertise. This will enable us to find out which of our services our members most value, what changes they would like to see, and how they would like us to communicate with them. One likely outcome will be a comprehensive overhaul of our website.

To expand our membership, attracting more nurses, GPs, psychiatrists, students and allied health professionals 

Although our core membership consists of doctors, many other health professionals join the Society - nurses, GPs, physiotherapists, pharmacists and psychiatrists and an increasing number of medical students. We hope to see growth in our membership overall during the life of this plan, and particularly an increase in GPs, other doctors, nurses, and AHPs so that the Society’s membership becomes more multi-disciplinary.

To continue increasing the effectiveness of BGS’s governance

Aside from spring-cleaning our committee structure to make sure we are focusing our detailed work on what matters most to our members, this strand of our strategy is about ensuring that we have an effective Trustee Board providing strong leadership and governance. 

To get the best from the staff team 

We have an excellent and committed staff team and we need ensure they have the support and effective management they need to give of their best.

The full text of the strategic plan is now on our website, and can be downloaded here.

Colin Nee
Chief Executive

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