Hello my name is John…

Blog Image.jpegThe festive season isn’t always a happy one for people

Walking around our cities and towns we see many things. There are the wonderful buildings, beautiful flower displays and social events. Bars, coffee shops and restaurants are alive, full of people and conversation. This is one vibrant sign of our landscape. Then there are our services - local authority, third sector, NHS, faith communities and community groups all working to make a positive difference to another picture.

It's a story we sometimes don't see or can easily walk past. It's the story of poverty, food banks and communities in decline. It is the reality of people who are homeless, have complex physical or learning disabilities, are in the asylum system, involved in sex work and who are members of the Gypsy and Traveller community whose health inequalities are truly shocking. The national mortality rates are 50 years for the Gypsy and Traveller community and 43 years old for homeless women. These figures should challenge us to the core.

I have worked in this latter picture for a long time and I would like to share three of my personal messages with you in this blog.  

The first is social inequalities. Working with social inequalities is a key to the future shape of health and care. We have many examples of the great work taking place across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. At the same time we can miss the social and health inequalities all around us. We walk or drive past communities facing innumerable challenges. In one area of a city in our region 48% of children are affected by income deprivation. This is not to blame but rather to make a plea. We need a new awareness which sees what happens in our areas. We should allow ourselves to be deeply challenged by what we see. Often the data points to issues but we may fail to make a meaningful connection to action.  

The second is what might be termed social assets. While some communities are deeply affected by poverty, unemployment, poor general and mental health and other issues there is another story. That story is that people have so many great gifts to offer. They have a real contribution to make and are often making it. They weave relationships and responses that make a real positive difference to people around them. While naming the issues, we must never lose sight of the gifts and potential present in our communities.  In fact it is where we should always start from in our work.     

Social connection is the third theme. Again this new awareness is key. To see, understand and connect is vital. And we can only do this by truly being present to people and communities. We will only grow this new awareness as we hear and understand the struggles, hopes and stories of children, families, carers and people everywhere in our region. I remember years ago reading a poignant phrase about moving from observation to encounter. We may observe people and issues without ever truly encountering or experiencing them. The point of the phrase was that in the encountering we discover a place where we really learn and become open to new possibilities. This applies wherever we are in the system. The good news is that this new awareness is growing in West Yorkshire and Harrogate – this is heartening – yet we still have a way to go.

It's a real honour to write this blog for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership. The Partnership vision and approach offers so much to how we might think and work together differently for the future. I hope you will join us in evolving this work across our area.

Have a good weekend



What else has been happening?

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Public Health Co- ordination Group

The group met on Monday. The meeting was chaired by Dr Ian Cameron, Director for Public Health, Leeds City Council. There was an update on the population health management work and the NHS Long Term Plan.  Key to the long term plan is our work with communities, including the full range of council services – from housing and planning to leisure, environment, skills and education, addressing the broader determinants of health and wellbeing. Working with public health colleagues is key to its development. You can read a report from The Kings Fund on population health management ‘A vision for population health: Towards a healthier future’ here. There was also an update on the work we are doing with people to reduce the impact of smoking and alcohol on their health and wellbeing.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Stroke Programme

The stroke programme met for the final time on Wednesday.  The group discussed the outcome from the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups meeting in November and the programme legacy paper and actions that have been prepared for consideration by the System Leadership Executive in December. The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on the progress to date against the programme’s objectives, to share examples of good practice identified which could be replicated elsewhere and to consider the next steps in relation to the proposed legacy actions. This will conclude the West Yorkshire and Harrogate work on hyper acute stroke services (the care people receive in the first 72 hours following a stroke).

Carers Rights Day

Carers Rights Day is today (30 November). It is organised every year by Carers UK with the aim of raising awareness of the unpaid carer, young and old, and the impact this has on their mental and physical wellbeing.

There are 6.5 million carers in the UK today – approximately 1 in 8 adults and around 260,000 here in West Yorkshire and Harrogate. Our Partnership work with local partners in Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Leeds, Kirklees, and Wakefield is all about learning and sharing the good work taking place across all of West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

A series of events are being held today to celebrate the role of carers whilst ensuring they know about the help and support available in their local area. For example in Calderdale and Kirklees a drop event will cover the support they are entitled to with representatives from all sectors available to give free advice. In Bradford and Harrogate, two Carers Rights Day events will be held with Q&A sessions. Another event will take place in Skipton. In Wakefield, a carers event will be held with information on universal credit, dementia, Citizens Advice Bureau and carers digital resources. In Leeds, a 5-day helpline will be made available for carers to discuss advice and support. A ‘Carers Speak Up’ event is also planned at St Georges, Leeds. This is just a snap shot of some of the activities taking place across our area. Fatima Shah-Khan, our programme lead for unpaid carers, also wrote a blog for the Department of Health and Social Care. You can read this here.

You may recall we held a primary care carers event in September.  You can read the report findings here. The programme team will be discussing report findings at their next meeting.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance

A new online cancer education website, already being used by 1,200 other primary care staff across the UK, is now available for free to primary care professionals across the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, thanks to funding from Health Education England. GatewayC is an interactive online portal with a range of courses supporting work around early diagnosis and living with and beyond cancer, and key areas including lung and colorectal cancers. The learning is designed to support primary care staff in the early detection of cancer, support the achievement of the 28 and 62 day national cancer standards, and improve the patient experience of the referral process. GatewayC courses focus on symptom recognition and clinical decision making through realistic, filmed patient consultations, specialist interviews and supporting activities. Each course can be completed at an individual's own pace and offers a minimum of two hours continuing professional development upon completion. For more information and to register, visit www.gatewayc.org.uk/register or email the GatewayC team at gatewayc@christie.nhs.uk

Improving Planned Care and Reducing Variation Programme

Dr James Thomas, clinical lead for the programme, brought together planned care GP and management leads from clinical commissioning groups across West Yorkshire and Harrogate to meet as a group for the first time on 22 November. Representatives received an overview of the Improving Planned Care Programme. They were joined by colleagues from the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (hospitals working together), the WY&H primary care programme and the planned care programme team. The group discussed some of the programme’s immediate challenges and attendees shared their experience and knowledge to put forward potential solutions that will be considered in more detail as we go forward. A West Yorkshire and Harrogate Eye Services Event was also held in Leeds on Thursday. Eye services account for 8% of all hospital outpatient appointments across England and the demand for these services continues to grow. Colleagues discussed how better use of resources and more emphasis on prevention will help support delivery of ophthalmology services across the area, resulting in better health outcomes for people.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service – patient advocate role

Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s long term vision to enhance patient care is to provide additional support to patients more extensively involving volunteers and the voluntary sector in service delivery. In order to achieve this Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) is developing a patient advocate role to be trialled in Leeds initially, this opportunity is being provided from Q Volunteering funding. The YAS Patient Advocate role will empower patients to improve their healthcare journey by completing a standardised health care plan.

The role of the advocate is a special one and can make a difference for patients in their healthcare journey. They will help patients navigate the healthcare system to improve their experience and where necessary complete a standardised health care plan that will assist in emergency management of these patients.

Advocates are volunteers who are willing to give their time to speak to patients with long term or complex medical needs to complete a health care plan. They need to have good oral and written communication skills, be empathetic, good interpersonal skills and be a good listener and a basic knowledge of YAS/Urgent and Emergency Care. They will be recruited from YAS employees (clinical or non-clinical), YAS Volunteer Community First Responder and third party organisations acting on behalf of YAS. It is hoped to recruit 100 volunteers during the trial phase.

There is no commitment in terms of a specific number of hours required but it is expected that volunteers are likely to form 3-4 patient contacts. They will be provided with the initial training to prepare them for the advocate role and completion of a standardised health care plan. It is hoped that by March 31st 2019 there will be 100 volunteers trained as YAS Advocates, with training starting Early February. Please contact Jason Carlyon on 07825 864118 or Jason.carlyon@nhs.net  for more information.


What’s happening next week?

  • Shadow System Leadership Executive Group meets on Monday. This is chaired by Dr Matt Walsh.
  • Clinical Forum meets on Tuesday. This is chaired by Dr Andy Withers.
  • The wider system leadership group also meet on Tuesday. This is chaired by Rob Webster, our CEO Partnership Lead.
  • West Yorkshire Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee meet on Wednesday in Bradford. The agenda can be viewed here.
  • The Healthy Hearts communication group meets on Wednesday.
  • Maternity task and finish group meet on Friday.