Provider Trusts’ contributions to population health outcomes

Dr Jane Wells, the Chair of the Provider Public Health Network talks about the input that provider trusts can make to local population health and wellbeing.

As well as treating and caring for people who are ill, NHS provider trusts have huge potential to contribute to improving local population health through their role with patients, staff, the wider population and the community they serve.  Population health is increasingly recognised as an important driver for integrated care systems. So it is timely that NHS Expo has scheduled a pop-up university session, supported by Public Health England, on Population Health for NHS Provider Trusts: what it is and what it can do for you on 6th September. Link to programme

What is meant by population health in a provider trust? Five elements have been identified through work with frontline staff from around the country. These will be explored further in the workshop where participants will be able to share their own experiences and hear learning from others. The 5 elements include:

  • Improving the health of every person who comes through a trust’s doors via initiatives such as Making Every Contact Count, and improving the health of staff, a trust’s biggest asset;
  • Ensuring the care provided is high value and meets the needs of the population;
  • Protecting the health of patients and staff for example through contribution to immunisation, screening and environmental programmes;
  • Trusts developing their role as an Anchor Institution within their community, tackling wider determinants of health and enabling equitable access to their services;
  • Working collaboratively with partners in the health and care system and the wider community as part of local integrated plans.

Clearly this includes some traditional public health activities, such as helping people to stop smoking, reduce their alcohol intake or maintain a healthy weight which local councils currently lead on. But as there are many patients who already have regular contact with community, mental health and acute healthcare trusts as part of the 23.4 million attendances at accident and emergency departments and 89.4 million outpatient appointments per year – trusts have a very important contribution to make in supporting preventative work as part of the care and treatment they provide.

NHS provider trusts also play a vital role in helping design integrated care pathways, in prioritising care and in evaluating outcomes. A population approach to planning and providing care can help ensure local people’s needs are met, reduce duplication and also fill gaps between services, improving effectiveness and efficiency.

As major employers, trusts can also champion good employment practices and promote jobs and enable work experience and training for local people. They can support local procurement and contracting, promote sustainability, and develop wider community roles.

The workshop takes place at 9.30am on 6th September in pop-up university PUU1, and is chaired by Julian Brookes Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Public Health England. It will showcase work by members of the Provider Public Health Network, a group of frontline professionals who work in or closely with NHS provider trusts. Experiences of population health delivery within trusts will be shared, including outlines of the benefits this has realised. This will demonstrate how taking a systematic approach to population health can help deliver benefits for trusts, their system partners, the NHS as a whole, and the wider community.

Jane Wells is an independent Public Health consultant and Chair of the Provider Public Health Network, a group of public health professionals who work in or closely with NHS Provider organisations. She has worked in a variety of roles in Public Health including as Director of Public Health, Consultant, as advisor to NIHR, and overseas. She previously trained as a GP and worked in a number of clinical settings.