North West London Hospitals NHS Trust

About this case study

The North West London Hospitals (NWLH) NHS Trust worked with Brunel University to deliver this Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). The collaboration aimed to evaluate an innovative acute hospital model, and provide feedback, recommendations, training materials and marketable tools to help create the best possible environment for patients and staff across the NHS.

About the sponsor

The Department of Health (DH) provides health and social care policy, guidance and publications across all areas of the NHS.

Key facts

  • Key changes and outcomes of the hospital model effectively captured, particularly in terms of acute care and patient experience, and knowledge disseminated widely 
  • Findings used to help inform decision-making around the efficiency of care processes
  • Framework produced for an interactive staff training tool to improve patient pathways
  • Prototype hand-held device developed for recording patient information, reducing clerking repetition and improving care pathway efficiency
  • Interschool collaborative research opportunity for the Academic Partner, enhancing staff understanding of different research traditions
  • Extensive project management experience and progress towards PhD for Associate

The company

The North West London Hospitals (NWLH) NHS Trust manages Northwick Park, St Mark’s and Central Middlesex Hospitals. The Trust employs some 4,200 healthcare professionals and cares for over half a million people each year.

About the project

In 2004, NWLH began construction work on the Brent Emergency Care and Diagnostic Centre at Central Middlesex Hospital. This new hospital model was designed to be an exemplar for modernising local urban hospitals, involving a fundamental redesign of care processes based on the use of multi-disciplinary working and integrated pathways.

The Trust entered a KTP with Brunel University to evaluate the hospital change programme and provide independent feedback, with particular focus on patient experience. The KTP also aimed to determine best ways to measure and achieve ‘patient-centred’ care in an acute setting, and develop marketable materials to help spread that knowledge across the NHS.


The collaboration proved extremely valuable, producing empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the hospital programme.

A multi-method design, including quantitative and qualitative techniques, was used to evaluate some of the key changes, and involved managers, doctors, nurses, patients and user
groups. Interim reports and presentations provided feedback and gave patients and staff a "voice". The KTP focused on certain aspects of the model, mainly around acute care.

Key positive outcomes of the model were identified, including:
  • sustained Accident and Emergency (A&E) performance despite increases in throughput
  • significant reduction in length of hospital stay for major cases
  • more efficient pathways and better patient experience in areas where a multi-disciplinary team approach was used "optimally"
  • some areas for further improvement were also identified helping to inform this and other change programmes.
The KTP led to publications, the development of a prototype hand-held device for recording patient information in A&E, and a framework for an interactive training tool which uses diagrammatic representations of a patient’s acute care journey. These innovative tools should help to improve clinical practice across the NHS, to the benefit of patients and staff, and enhance the Trust’s competitive profile in research and development.


  • Comprehensive, independent evidence of the effectiveness of the hospital programme 
  • Useful illustrations of the impact of change on patient care and experiences
  • Innovative prototype tools developed, with potential to generate income for the Trust
  • Much positive publicity generated for KTP partners

The Associate

Sarah Pajak was recruited as KTP Associate on this project. She worked hard to meet the objectives, successfully adapting to the complex and everchanging nature of the NHS as an organisation, and fitting her work around that of the healthcare professionals involved and the needs of users.


Working with a range of highly-skilled multidisciplinary professionals provided Sarah with access to invaluable expert guidance and support. In addition to the research work itself, she had joint supervision of several MSc students, building her managerial and people skills. Sarah also had the opportunity to apply and enhance her presentation skills when disseminating findings of the research, and was involved in the preparation of several publications.


  • Professional, project management and team working skills enhanced
  • Gained NVQ Level Four in Management
  • Progressed towards PhD
  • Employed as researcher in patient safety and service quality at King’s College London, applying skills developed and gained during KTP project.

The academic partner (Brunel)

A multi-disciplinary team from Brunel University worked together to deliver this KTP, with academic input from three Schools: Health Sciences and Social Care; Business; and Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics.


Many benefits accrued from the project with NWLH NHS Trust. Inter-school relationships were strengthened, and collaborative research brought together expertise in a wide range of research methods, which fed into the multi-method designs applied so effectively in the project. Staff gained enhanced understanding of different research traditions, and had the opportunity to carry out interdisciplinary research generating unique data sets and outcomes that enhance evidence-based healthcare practice.

The project has also created much useful teaching material and case studies, enhancing curricula and providing real-time scenarios of contemporary healthcare.


Enriched University’s mission to be research-led Innovative work at research discipline interfaces Positive publicity created through papers and articles in the popular press and in academic form Useful course work developed, enhancing research-led teaching

Page last updated: Wednesday 29 June 2011