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Health and Wellbeing

Mon 20 Apr 2015

Its election time and in the national debate Health and Social Care feature right at the top, only pipped by the economy and immigration. What many people don’t know is that Health and Social Care is an almost entirely devolved issue when it comes to delivery with local NHS bodies and local councils holding most of the responsibility. In Staffordshire these bodies sit together at regular meetings of the Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board to provide oversight of services in the county. A similar Board meets in Stoke-on-Trent. So what is top on their agenda at present and how does it affect the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector?

Well, its right to say that the Boards have a huge remit and in Staffordshire things are very complicated with both a county council and 8 district councils, plus 5 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) responsible for commissioning NHS services. They work closely with a number of hospitals across the county most of whom are not managed by Staffordshire based Hospital Trusts or are not even in Staffordshire but have a large Staffordshire patient base (eg. Good Hope in the south and the Royal Stoke in the north). To top this off most delivery of social care is delivered by the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust (SSOTP) and there are two Mental Health NHS Trusts… can you keep up?

It is then no wonder that the two main issues for the Health and Wellbeing Board revolve around integration of services and the overall viability of Staffordshire’s Healthcare system. The first is most embodied by the Better Care Fund plan – a plan to integrate NHS health services with what have traditionally been county council social services. The plan also highlights the need for more work on early intervention and focusses on better providing for the healthcare demands of frail elderly patients – both areas where the VCSE sector is ideally placed to contribute. You can find out more in the county council cabinet paper here, though unfortunately most of the Health and Wellbeing Board discussion about the Better Care Fund has been in private session to date…

The second issue is colloquially referred to as ‘the KPMG report’, as the accounting firm KPMG were commissioned by the Department for Health to look into England’s most ‘distressed’ health systems and Staffordshire is one of the 11 investigated. The publishing of the report has been much delayed and somewhat controversially was leaked by a local MP in February, leading to a flurry of concerns that Stafford Hospital was set to be closed despite current and ongoing investments to develop the hospital. The report does seem to contain a predicted £200 million financial gap with only some attempt to solve the issue through suggested closures or reductions in community hospitals or wards. And now the whole thing is frozen in the midst of election campaigning.

The next Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board is after the election, on 21 May at 3pm at Staffordshire Place 1, in Stafford – it’s a public meeting and you can attend and ask questions. Support Staffordshire plans to attend and try to get its head around just what the county’s leaders in Health are actually planning to do next. We know that the VCSE sector is crucial to solving Staffordshire’s ongoing health and social care tribulations, as yet we don’t see the plan to involve us, so that’s what I’ll be pressing for involvement in. To talk to us about strategic Health and Wellbeing issues contact garry.jones@supportstaffordshire.org.uk.

Filed under: Mental Health