Circle Case study

Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Trust-wide insight for service improvement from Synergy 4 PLICS solution investment


• Specialist PLICS solution built for NHS Trusts
• Supports Critical Care Board operations
• Blended financial and patient insight for clinicians and managers
• User-friendly, intuitive dashboards for immediate visibility
• Expert, responsive training and valuable User Group support

 About CPFT

CPFT is an NHS health and social care organisation that provides services in inpatient, community and primary care settings. The Trust’s services support adult mental health, older people and adults, and children, young people and families. Its biggest bases are the Cavell Centre in Peterborough and Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, but its 4,000 staff are based in more than 50 locations, supporting a population of nearly one million people

The challenge: Finding an intuitive PLICS solution to suit CPFT’s workstyle

With new PLICS regulations in force from 2020 for Mental Health, CPFT needed to update its systems to comply. The Trust was in the process of implementing a new e-patient record system, so requested a PLICS deadline extension to 2021, which was granted.

Michelle Barnes, CPFT’s Assistant Director of Finance, explains: “We knew that the regulation would soon be extended to its Community operations, so we decided to deploy a PLICS solution for both Mental Health and Community. We particularly wanted to find a system that felt intuitive to our team, so we could get the most value and efficiency from it.”

CPFT decided to replace its existing software outright, rather than upgrading it. The team selected CACI to integrate and implement our Synergy 4 patient level costing solution in a competitive process delivered through the NHS procurement framework.

The solution: Leading, specialist capability and supportive deployment

Michelle Barnes says, “We had demonstrations of four different systems. We particularly liked the logic of Synergy 4 – it matched how we approach things in our day-to-day work. For example, it uses familiar language and terms in allocations and apportionments. Other systems that we reviewed seemed either too basic or too convoluted.”

Finance Assistant Michelle Clarke adds, “We had been using Excel for a lot of our costings, which had its limitations. Some of the solutions we evaluated were still spreadsheet-based – we wanted to move away from this to a specialist system. We liked the way the outputs were presented and being able to customise the dashboards, so we could choose what we wanted to see.”

Once CPFT had selected the CACI solution, CACI’s trainers booked in working sessions to upload data and support the CPFT team to embed their financial model. CACI delivered training on the features and functions of the system, in context of CPFT’s particular approach, and provided a high-level reference guide.

Michelle Barnes says, “CACI made us feel confident that they were on our wavelength whenever we asked questions about the system.” Michelle Clarke agrees: “We worked with two different trainers, who were both really knowledgeable. They always understood what we needed – we felt the system was in our control from day one.”

The benefits: Secure PLICS reporting and accurate, relevant Trust-wise insight

Synergy 4 provides granular, detailed and accurate information that CPFT can use in an intuitive and collaborative way across the Trust. Michelle Clarke affirms: “Synergy 4 gives us a lot more flexibility with the dashboards – we can share the information with clinical managers and show them the fluctuations, in more detail. You can customise it for wards, teams and communities. Before we only had average contact and bed days – now we can have much more detail when we talk about what services cost.

“Before, we basically divided total costs by the number of patients to calculate patient-level costings. Now, we have so much more scope to be detailed and to layer financial information with demographics and population data. For example, we can apply postcodes and look at metrics like staff downtime and travel time for patients.”

Michelle Barnes adds, “When we move into Critical Care boards, we’ll have to split our contract into two, for north and south. The extra information we can extract from PLICS at GP practice level will really help us see how to split that contract.”

Peer advice and experience from the Synergy User Group

Both Michelle Clarke and Michelle Barnes agree that CACI’s Synergy User Group is an additional benefit that they’ve not experienced before. The User Group brings together NHS organisations from around the country in an online forum and for regular virtual meetings and clinics. This means the CPFT team can question other users with similar approaches and organisations and share their own best practice knowledge and tips. The User Group is led by CACI’s Synergy lead, who has a wealth of knowledge about how the solution works and how it can best deliver on Trusts’ priorities. Trusts can feed back to CACI about new functionality they’d like to see and upcoming requirements, so CACI can continue to evolve Synergy to anticipate and meet the latest needs.

Michelle Barnes says, “The User Group forum feels like it belongs to the Trusts – it’s not a sales update for CACI. It’s a chance to ask each other questions, as well as the CACI consultants. For example, peers might demo what they’re doing with reports – it’s a really good forum because it shows how people use the system in practice. It’s truly collaborative and interactive. Spin-off groups have emerged for different aspects, like the dashboards. And it’s so useful to be able to talk directly to other mental health and community trusts, because our needs can be different from acute trusts.”

It’s a strong relationship – we’ve had great support and interaction with everyone from the account manager to the trainers and helpdesk. We had a few IT issues, related to our firewall and making connections through it. CACI’s consultants were really responsive and came back to us very quickly to get this sorted. They were always progressing what they needed to and checking that things were satisfactorily resolved. The Synergy User Group is great – it helps us continue to explore and make the most of the solution, to deliver more decision insight and value for our Trust.”
Michelle Barnes, Assistant Director of Finance, CPFT