How can I build partnerships with health providers?

Speaking to our members who have already built partnerships with health we hear one piece of advice over and over again: it’s all about building relationships. So who should you be speaking to, and what do you need to know before you meet them?

Who to speak to

The NHS is a very complex organisation, and it can be tricky to understand how all the moving parts fit together. NHS England have a range of resources to help you navigate them. We also particularly like this animation from the King’s Fund.


The Health and Social Care Act 2012 brought about the biggest shake-up in the history of the NHS. The key players in the new structure are:

Our Routes into Health briefings contain more information about these new bodies. 

How to speak to health providers

Like many housing associations in a challenging economy health service providers are looking for new ways to do much more with much less. By 2020 there is likely to be a deficit of more than £30bn between NHS budgets and NHS expenditure unless they can start to work differently. There is a real opportunity for housing associations to deliver community-based alternatives to hospital services.

To meet this challenge effectively, you will need to understand how NHS providers are paid and how performance incentives operate within the NHS. Opportunities for contracts don’t often sit with the CCG, and you might find it more fruitful to work directly with an NHS provider.

You will need to be clear about whether you would like to be a subcontractor or part of a bidding consortium, to redesign a particular care pathway or develop a joint venture. Our Connecting Housing and Health briefings contain much more information about these and other opportunities to partner with the NHS.

To speak to health providers in their language, we would encourage you to make use of existing evidence to demonstrate what works to commissioners. The people that you speak to will be looking for robust and convincing evidence of what your service will achieve against three core criteria: results, impact and cost-effectiveness.

Make use of findings from published research to show which interventions are the most effective. Where there are gaps, consider designing your own research, whether through evaluating a pilot project or modelling from existing evidence.

Prescription for Success is a guide to health economics, designed to support you to develop a robust and clearly evidenced business case for health.