Promoting partnership working in the NHS

Embedding Partnership Working Group (EPWG)


The Embedding Partnership Working Group (EPWG) is chaired by Rebecca Smith, Director of Engagement at NHS Employers, and includes representatives from the Department of Health, NHS Trade Unions, NHS Employers, Health Education England NHS Improvement and NHS England.

The group's aim is to encourage effective partnership working at all levels in the NHS by:

  • communicating the work of the national SPF and regional SPFs via its website and SPF news alerts and bulletins 
  • promoting the case for partnership working and its positive impact on patient care through highlighting good practice case studies and sponsoring the HPMA partnership award
  • working to strengthen the links between the national SPF and regional and local forums.

Terms of reference

Terms of reference for the EPWG were agreed in August 2015 and updated in September 2015.

The National Regional Group (NRG) was established as a subgroup of the EPWG, following an action from the 2013 SPF stocktake event. The aim of this subgroup is to ensure the national SPF and the regional SPFs have a co-ordinated approach to progressing their work and achieving their objectives. The group enables a shared understanding and provides connectivity between the work of the national SPF (wider group, strategic group and subgroups) and the work of each regional SPF.

The meeting is chaired by Christina McAnea, National Health Secretary, UNISON and includes representation from Department of Health, NHS Trade Unions, NHS Employers, and management and staff side chairs from the regional SPFs. The group meets every 6 months and the EPWG provides governance support and monitors actions outside of the meetings.

The groups Terms of Reference were last agreed in January 2016.

The action notes from each meeting can be accessed below:

28 November 2016

10 May 2016 

9 November 2015

6 July 2015

21 January 2015


Recent work and priorities

The SPF partnership arrangements are subject to regular review to make sure they remain relevant and fit for purpose. To do this the group co-ordinates an annual stocktake of how the national SPF or regional SPFs operate.  

The EPWG's current priority is to work on the recommendations that arose from the stocktake 2016

 The EPWG’s current activity includes:

  • To maintain an overview of the regional action log which will share regional activity, successes, any raised issues with the view of shared discussion and problem solving
  • To encourage and develop successful partnership working at regional and employer level within the NHS
  • To develop stronger connections between the national SPF and regional forums through the national / regional (NRG) meetings
  • To support national and regional social partnerships to ensure the structure, representation, engagement and priorities are fit for purpose
  • To ensure partnership working is embedded in NHS structure and organisations
  • To implement the SPF communications plan to promote the values of partnership working and demonstrate the positive impact
  • To co-ordinate and have an overview of reviews of the SPF (stocktake process), managing any recommendations / actions that are made as a result of the review.  

For further information about the work of the EPWG please contact webenquiries@socialpartnershipforum.or