Old colleagues and new partners

It was a great privilege to spend an afternoon with Derek Davies, our longest serving County Councillor, in his Division in Chadsmoor, Cannock.  It is one of the most deprived areas in the county, but I was struck by the neatness and pride that residents evidently take in their area, and the connection that members such as Derek have with their residents.  We spent a half hour with a primary school at their end of term church service, in St Chad’s Church with Reverend Jane Nash, which reminded me why we’re doing this job, if I needed to be.  As budgets shrink and decisions become harder, it is useful to get out and see what we do, and how it affects people.

Becci Bryant, the new Chief Fire Officer, visited on Tuesday morning.  She is a worthy successor to Peter Dartford, and will be continuing the excellent work in the health and wellbeing arenas.  They’ve just had 6,000 of the 30,000 Safe and Well home visits they conduct annually audited by Public Health England.  The results will be published in September, but early indications are that they avoided almost 150 hospital admissions by catching problems early, predominantly with elderly people living alone, and that they save £7 for every £1 spent with these targeted visits.  Good going, and something that we need to build upon.

Remaining on Health, I finished the week at Leicester Racecourse with the challenge session for Staffordshire and Stoke’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).  It was chaired by Simon Stevens, the CE of NHS England, and included a high-ranking panel.  With our unenviable place in the national psyche for health, it was good to hear that our plan was well-received, and had pleasantly surprised the panel.  Simon Stevens, himself a former local Councillor, questioned me closely on how much commitment there was from the county council for working with health.  He was very happy to hear that we see it as our biggest challenge.  I understand that we’ve had more than our share of knocks and false starts, but those will longer experience than me tell me that there is a difference this time, and a real willingness to succeed.  I’m certainly giving it my best shot.

As we enter the summer holiday season, can I wish you all a restful and enjoyable break whenever and wherever you take it.

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