Lancashire Care is preparing to launch a new legal services database that is expected to cut its spending on legal fees by 10 percent with the potential for the initiative to be rolled out across the entire NHS.
The Knowledge and Legal Advice Centre is to go live on 1 March and has been set up following a review by the Governance and Compliance Team at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust in 2015 to look at how the Trust could ensure an effective and efficient approach in engaging with external legal services.
This approach to a centralised system was supported by the outcome of a Legal Efficiency Review undertaken by Melanie Gavin from legal firm Ward Hadaway which recommended a legal knowledge centre for gathering advice across all areas in the organisation.
Julie-Ann Bowden, Associate Director of Compliance and Assurance, said: “The system will be reviewed after three months to make sure staff are using it and putting new information into the database. One of the recommendations of the legal services review was to have a central place to store legal advice so we could share it across the organisation. It has grown to have the potential for it to be implemented across the whole NHS.
"The idea is that at some point we will have the potential to undertake a procurement exercise to look at how we procure either one single provider across all areas of law or one provider per category. It also fits in with the Trust’s efficiency savings plan following the Carter Review. The principles of Lord Carter’s recommendations have been a guiding principle in considering how the Knowledge and Legal Advice Centre will improve efficiencies in legal spend.”
David Eva, Chair of Lancashire Care, said: “The knowledge centre is a brilliant idea now brought into reality. NHS trusts spend an awful lot of time and money getting legal advice and managers often put off or delay making decisions because they are not sure of the legal consequences that may result. Inevitably a huge amount of duplication of advice takes place within and between Trusts.
"The knowledge centre pools all the advice and legal guidance already received and creates a fantastic resource to help managers at all levels get the guidance they need at the touch of a button. The result should be faster decisions, improved service and savings in legal fees which in the current financial climate makes this a great investment for LCFT.”
The system has been developed within Lancashire Care by the SharePoint Development team and will be available via the Trust’s intranet.
The development of the Knowledge and Legal Advice Centre has been about making sure that Lancashire Care has a strong and systematic approach to how knowledge is obtained, stored and shared across the organisation.
The next stage will be to look at how legal services themselves are acquired and a piece of work is planned across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Sustainability and Transformation Plan to explore an approach to working in partnership and discovering the potential for joint procurement. This provides an opportunity to initially take a view as to what savings can be made.