Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new innovative system to streamline the amount of legal advice sought by health staff.
The Knowledge and Legal Advice Centre (KnowLa) was set up following a review of the Trust’s legal services and went live earlier this month. The outcome of that review identified that there was an inconsistent approach to the way in which the Trust sought legal advice and how this information was then utilised and shared within the organisation.
The Trust originally envisaged that the system would just capture the advice received from solicitors, however whilst preparing for a CQC visit it became clear that there was the potential to create a system that would also capture knowledge and advice from the Trust’s internal specialists too. The idea for the system was then developed through engagement with staff within the organisation and by doing so has ensured that the development process was able to take account of the needs of the individuals, to make sure that the system was going to add value. It also ensured that there was buy-in from the people that were going to help to drive this initiative forwards and has helped to shape the system into something that is bespoke to the Trust. KnowLa was created using the principles of the Carter review and is expected to save the Trust money from its annual legal services budget.
The system is split into different legal categories:
- Corporate finance and procurement;
- Contracts and commercial;
- Healthcare law;
- Information governance;
- Mental health legislation; and
- Property law.
The development of the system has also been strongly supported by the Trust’s Chair, David Eva who said 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 the Trust.”
Julie-Ann Bowden, Associate Director of Compliance and Assurance at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“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. The KnowLa database recognises that Lord Carter had that primary focus on operational productivity.
“The system will be reviewed after three months to make sure staff are using it, putting new information into the database as it is important that it adds value to the Trust.
“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 cross all areas of law or one provider per category.”
The KnowLa database will allow staff across different departments to access previously paid for legal advice stored in the database, instead of having to pay for new advice each time it is needed. The system also allows staff to update the database with new advice.