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On March 3 and 4 NHS England will host one of the most important events in the health calendar. The Health and Care Innovation Expo, being staged at Manchester Central, will bring together more than 10,000 people who want to work to change and improve the NHS and care services for all.
Dr Mike Bewick, GP and Deputy Medical Director for NHS England, explains why local government colleagues are not just a ‘nice to have’ but are central to achieving long-term, sustainable change for the benefit of the communities we serve.
As a GP who has worked in both acute and primary care in Cumbria for over 20 years, I know too well the pressures facing colleagues across the country.
In my profession alone, GPs see over one million people every working day, the average patient visits their doctor just over five times a year, and the demand for services across the system, including general practice and wider primary care, continues to rise. The number of people aged 65 or older is expected to be around 16 million in 2030, and those likely to require care is predicted to rise by over 60 per cent by 2030.
These figures are not lost on local government colleagues. Set alongside the existing 70 per cent of the health and social care spend that is allocated to the 15 million people with long term conditions, doing nothing is not an option.
We know good management of long-term conditions keeps people from having to go to hospital. We know better patient education, multi-disciplinary teams and patient-centred care delivered in partnership with social care colleagues all help reduce complications and keep people well for longer.
Yet long term conditions and the management of complex health needs remains one of the biggest challenges faced by the NHS today. And the knock on effect for local government is huge.
Improving continuity of care and meeting people’s needs to ensure health and care professionals provide a wider range of services, in and closer to people’s homes must be our number one priority. And local health and wellbeing boards which bring together health, public health, social care and local leaders are critical to success.
We know the major levers over health – keeping individuals and communities fit and well – lie largely outside of the health service and sit in local government.
We in the NHS must take advantage of the depth and breadth of expertise that spans local government: public health, health protection, social care, transport, housing, education and regeneration and the environment to grasp the problems and develop new innovative solutions. There are many examples out there but the trick here is to apply that best practice and the latest evidence of effectiveness and roll it out on an industrial scale for the benefit of every patient in every borough, in every part of the country, all 15 million.
We must work together as one system for the benefit of the patient to tackle problems where they surface – pharmacists, carers, social care and housing colleagues often spot first when health is deteriorating.
We need you to come and tell us what works, what doesn’t and how we can change to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities and develop a sustainable health service for the long term.
Changing the model for long-term conditions is a key theme at this year’s Innovation Expo. In the pop-up university a whole theme is devoted to the House of Care, and delegates will learn about how to ensure care for long term conditions is integrated across health and social care.
Expo will bring together experts from across the health, care and wider public and private organisations to change the model for long-term conditions.
As my colleague Dr Martin McShane said in an interview a few weeks ago, long term conditions are the biggest problem facing the health and care system. They are the health care equivalent to climate change.
I’m clear that the NHS can’t do this by itself. We need everyone to share their experience and expertise to find a way to improve the care and treatment for all.
Given the constraints on the money of the NHS, local government and all other public services, the clock is ticking.