Posts Tagged ‘Health and Care’

Graduations and planning for the future

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Philip Atkins, the Council Leader, and I visited the New Beacon Group in Stafford this week to find out their plans for developing the Beaconside site to the east of the county town.  We met Richard Li-Hua, the President of the organisation, and his staff, and received a set of formal briefings, followed by a wide-ranging discussion.  They have great ambitions to link with Chinese universities in a business school and a School of China Studies, as well as with Staffordshire University.  We briefed them on the various plans for the county and the region, including HS2 and Midlands Engine.  It certainly feels like there is something in this that will benefit Stafford in the long term, and we will be working with them closely to achieve it.      

Elsewhere, the end of the academic year means graduations at our colleges and universities.  A few weeks ago, I attended the Newcastle and Stafford College Group graduation at the County Showground; last week it was Staffordshire University and this week it was Keele University.  It was a great pleasure to see so many people receive their diplomas and degrees after so much hard work – we are very fortunate to have such good colleges and universities in Staffordshire which take such a full part in the wider community as well as in academia.  It reminded me that I missed my own graduation because I was under training at Sandhurst – on the morning that I was supposed to be collecting my degree, I was soaking wet through, breathless and aching on an assault course.  There was, as I remember, no sympathy from the instructors!

This week has also seen a range of evening meetings in the many organisations in which we work with partners across the private and public sectors.  The Health and Care Sustainability and Transformation Partnership held a workshop with a wide range of partners on the progress of implementation as we look towards an Integrated Care System, and the Local Enterprise Partnership met to discuss how they are going to strengthen their planning ability as we approach Brexit.  In this latter instance, we will see the end of the EU funding that we have enjoyed for many years, and the start of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will use as its basis the Local Industrial Strategy.  It will come as no surprise therefore. that we are working hard to ensure that this is as good as it can be, so we can attract the businesses and good-quality jobs that we need to continue Staffordshire’s progress.     

Health and social care integration, and our Industrial Strategy

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

It was a delight to get out of the office on Tuesday and visit an exemplar of integration in health and care at the Samuel Johnson Hospital in Lichfield.  Claire Wood, the matron, was our host as we listened to NHS employees and adult social care workers operating together in a highly effective manner.  In essence, they had heeded the advice of somebody whom I worked for many years ago, namely sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.  They had just got with working together, without worrying whether they worked for the NHS or the local authority.  Of course, there is no reason why they would have to ask for forgiveness, as they were doing the right things, but sometimes I think we worry about organisational structures too much.  The lesson for me is obvious; we all just need to concentrate on doing the right thing for our residents.

On a completely different track, I spent Thursday morning with members of the Local Enterprise Partnership – business people, academics, politicians and civil servants as well as local government officers –  working out what Staffordshire and Stoke’s Local Industrial Strategy will look like.  This is not merely an academic exercise; after Brexit, the EU funding to the county will stop and will be replaced by our proportion of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.  Although the details are yet to be confirmed, it is almost certain that our share will be at least partly dictated by how compelling our strategy is.  It’s therefore worth us taking a lot of interest in it.

Making healthy progress

Friday, August 24th, 2018

The Health and Care Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has really come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. I spent time working with Health and Care colleagues last week, and it struck me that we have become a single cohesive system for the first time in my experience in Staffordshire.

That’s not to say that everything is fixed and there’s nothing to do – far from it. But we have got a shared narrative and we – NHS commissioners and providers, healthcare professionals and local authorities – have a clear idea of what lies ahead of us. Given Staffordshire’s unenviable reputation in Health circles after Mid-Staffs a decade ago, that is progress indeed.

On substantive measures, Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOCs) are coming down, although not as quickly or consistently as we would like, and Royal Stoke Hospital recently achieved the 4 hour target for A&E for the first time in a long period. We are also making progress with joint commissioning with the CCGs.

Looking forward, we now have a plan to make integrated primary, community and social care a reality in 23 localities across Stoke and Staffordshire. Buildings in and of themselves will not make the outcomes happen, but with the right leadership and efforts, they will make integrated care and digital health a reality with the accompanying benefits to workforce and patients.

Dignity in Care Awards

Monday, July 30th, 2018

I didn’t manage to get to this year’s Dignity in Care Awards which took place in Newcastle College last week, but I wanted to mention it, because it is such an important event.  I very much regret missing it, because it is one of the most uplifting experiences.  The idea is simple – to recognise the many thousands of professional and volunteer carers across Staffordshire – and it works brilliantly.

Without wishing to be negative, the mainstream media tend to concentrate on care when things go wrong, either in a system as a result of poor organisation, or individually when somebody commits a crime, usually against the person for whom they are caring.  That is inevitable, and it is right that such events are highlighted, but we must not allow them to drown out the many thousands of people in Staffordshire alone who give of their time so generously.  The very clever thing, in my opinion, with the Dignity in Care Awards, is that they have categories for those who are professional, paid carers and their companies, as well as the volunteers.  With an ageing population, and the expectation that people deserve an enjoyable and comfortable life, we have to make caring a more attractive profession.  I will not attempt to cover all of the awards, but if you want to know more about them, you can find out here.

Thank you to everybody involved both in the awards, and more broadly in caring for others.

SLT Away Day; Providing a better health and care system

Monday, July 31st, 2017

The Cabinet and the Senior Leadership Team had our long-awaited Away Day last Monday to consider the direction of Staffordshire County Council over the coming 4 years.  It is probably just as well that we did not have it in the weeks following the county council elections in May, as so much has changed in the intervening time.  Saving any other shocks and upsets, we hopefully have as clear a view of the way ahead as we’re going to get.

The themes were all familiar to us: the future of Health and Care in Staffordshire; how we grow the economy and provide adequate housing for those people whom we hope to attract to the county; how we continue the improvement in Staffordshire’s schools in an environment where our direct influence is waning; and, of course, the future of local government finance to look after the most vulnerable and needy in our society.  We did not aim to get into detail, but rather to sketch out our aims and to make objective judgements on the relative importance of each area, and on relationships with organisations and people.  It was probably one of the most useful days that I have spent since coming to this role over 2 years ago.

On Health and Care, it is clear that we need to do something different.  Staffordshire and Stoke’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has just been graded in the bottom 5 of the 44 STPs nationally – needing the most improvement.  All but one of the measures are in the health arena, with the Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOCs) being the only one with a local authority flavour.  It is often said as a joke that the definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, but in this case, as there so often is, there is a germ of truth in the witticism; the national structures and directives are clearly not achieving the results that anybody seeks.  I felt very proud of our politicians at the full Council meeting the week before last, when all members put party interests aside to vote unanimously for a motion to work with the NHS and the people of Staffordshire to provide the health and care system that meets our needs in the future.  Unlike so many other parts of the country, we are engaged closely with our health colleagues locally, but we do need to align responsibility, accountability and authority locally if we are to make the system work as it should.