All trusts providing acute health services are required to be part of one or more provider collaboratives as part of new ways of working across health and care in England.

Collaboratives may support the work of other collaborations including clinical networks, cancer alliances and clinical support service networks. Providers have an active and strong leadership role to play in system and place-based partnerships, provider collaboratives, and the wider health and care system, collaborating with both NHS partners and others such as local authorities, to use resources in the best way for all our patients, and develop consistently high quality services.

In particular, acute provider collaboratives are intended to deliver:

Reductions in unwarranted variation in outcomes and access to services
Providers can work together to develop new evidence­ based models of care and standardise protocols to reduce unwarranted variation. Common processes and procedures ensure that staff can more easily move between sites. Members offer each other peer expertise, support and challenge to improve consistency where appropriate across a wider footprint.

Reductions in health inequalities
Provider collaboratives have an opportunity to embed joint accountability, improve equity of access to appropriate and timely health services, and ensure the needs of underserved communities can be considered over whole pathways of care.

Greater resilience across systems. including mutual aid. better management of system-wide capacity and alleviation of immediate workforce pressures.
Members can support each other to implement improvements in quality of care, and can develop combined capacity and capability if a need for enhanced support arises. Strong leadership teams can help other providers stabilise and improve quality or navigate complex change. Staff may be able to work more flexibly between sites across a wider footprint through aligned contracts, processes and cultures. This could reduce agency spend, improve patient experience and make it easier to respond to demand changes in real time across the footprint.

Better recruitment, retention, development of staff and leadership talent, enabling providers to collectively support national and local people plans
By working together, providers can form a more diverse pool from which to identify and develop future leaders and increase career opportunities, easing some of the recruitment and retention challenges that smaller providers face. Provider collaboratives can provide access to better training and leadership development through investments in shared programmes.

Consolidation of low-volume or specialised services
Where clinically beneficial providers canimprove outcomes and enable a greater degree of sub-specialisation by agreeing how and where to consolidate specialised services.

Efficiencies and economies of scale:
Members can find savings by joining up certain clinical support and corporate services, or leveraging joint purchasing power in procurement of, for example, clinically appropriate and safe medicines.

For more  information, see Working together at scale: guidance on provider collaboratives , NHS England, August 2021