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Learning from local

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What is learning? According to the dictionary, learning is described as “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught”. 

As a young boy, each term at school we were given a project in our design and technology lesson. At the end of each project I remember vividly watching my teacher, Mr Davies, stroll up to the whiteboard and write.

“What was good about my project?” he started.

“What was sh... not so good about my project?” he added (always getting a snigger from the class as he crossed through the “sh” without finishing the word).

“What improvements could I make to my project next time?” he concluded.

With those three simple questions, we each produced three sets of answers based on our individual experiences and shared them around our classmates. This enabled us to learn, not just from our own singular set of experiences, but from 25 other students’ experiences too. It is this same principle upon which the Learning from Local initiative is based.

What is Learning from Local?
Across the health and care sector, lots of great work is being done to solve local problems. This is not an issue. Sometimes problems are best fixed locally so long may this continue. The only time this does become a problem however is when someone is trying to solve something locally that has already been solved somewhere else.

What Learning from Local is trying to do is reduce the number of times a problem is addressed independently by helping facilitate the learning that has already taken place.

Learning from Local is not trying to stop people coming up with new solutions to problems that have already been solved. What it is trying to do is stop people investing time in recreating the same solutions to problems that other people have already created.

Learn once, not twice
At school, although our end results were different, the overarching project we were undertaking was the same. This meant that when reviewing other’s lessons learned we recognised some that we ourselves had also learnt. With the current pressures on the health and care sector, we cannot afford such a luxury. Helping the Health & Care Record community be as transparent as possible is key to minimising the duplication of effort in solving these same problems.

Learning from Local has identified over 60 local shared care records in various stages of development across England. Each one, organically grown, but with the same overarching vision in mind. From these local shared care records, the local health and care record programme is enabling larger geographical footprints to drive further and faster in their adoption of joined up care records.

It is Learning from Local’s responsibility to ensure learning is shared across all care records so that it does not have to be learnt twice and thus duplicate the cost.

Where does it fit?

As a work stream in the NHS and Local Government Association’s Local Health & Care Record (LHCR) programme, learning from local is playing a key role in facilitating the exchange of learning amongst local health and care records.

The LHCR programme is responsible for enabling national policy, strategy and vision at a local level through setting expectations, providing funding & control, enabling collaboration and capturing lessons. The Learning from Local project then collects the learning produced at a local level, collates and organises them, curates them for its consumer base and communicates out to the community the learning that has been produced.Once the learning has been through this process other localities have a choice with what they do with it. They can

  • Replicate the solution like for like
  • Customise it to tailor to their own individual needs or
  • Enhance the solution where they have identified further capabilities and enhancements to be made

No matter which action they take, by not re-creating the solution from scratch, localities will be benefiting from taking advantage of the initial research and developments costs that were put into the original solution.

Local learning
The importance of the community in the Learning from Local initiative is not to be underplayed. The community is the fuel that powers the car. Without it Learning from Local is just a stationary vehicle going nowhere.

As the learning will be captured at a local level we need eyes and ears everywhere helping us identify and understand where and when it’s taking place. No matter the size or scale of the solution implemented, if there is something to be learnt we would like to hear about it.

If you have any examples of great lessons on shared care records that have been learnt locally, please get in contact by emailing


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