New NHS Alliance newsletter – January 2017
Active Alliance Launch – Wednesday 22nd February, 10.15 to 16.00, Central Birmingham
– Let’s Infect the Health System with Wellness!
Many of you have joined the Alliance because you are passionate about addressing health inequalities and want to focus on ‘what creates health rather than what prevents ill health’.
New NHS Alliance invites all its members to become more actively involved in helping us to do this.
At the meeting, we will share with you our developing vision for the health sector and for the New NHS Alliance. You will meet other like-minded individuals there and there will be scope for you to bring ideas to explore and shape, and to contribute in many ways to furthering our collective vision. We will use Open Space for part of the session, which allows participants to self-organise around issues that are important to them and work out what actions to take.
If you would like to attend, please email Debbie Cookson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
New NHS Alliance responds to Theresa May’s plans for a seven-day GP service
– Calls for ‘whole-system-and-wellness’ approach to current NHS pressures –
In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement on NHS pressures and general practice, the New NHS Alliance is calling for a cohesive ‘whole system’ approach together with a new focus on keeping people well, rather than scapegoating GPs for the increased emergency demand and pressures facing hospitals.
CEO, Merron Simpson, said: “The current NHS problems are not the fault of any single part of the health system; it is well known that they are due to a mismatch between types and level of demand, the peculiarities of a health system that is badly in need of reform and a chronically underfunded social care sector that is now being stretched beyond breaking point. We know that measurement and financial incentives are set up in all the wrong ways and that those places that are really trying to adopt better and Health Creating approaches that better meet the realities of day to day life in the communities in which they are based – and reduce demand in the process – are having to bend the rules to do so. We need to re-write the rule-book and re-set the financial incentives so they work in favour of health creation and of outcomes for people, rather than being based on throughput in specific parts of the system”.
GP Ken Aswani, New NHS Alliance spokesperson on primary care, added: “Health is built in the community; we must take action alongside our communities to stem demand. The NHS has made strides in encouraging self care in the population, but we are fighting against a consumer culture. The crisis in the nation’s health belongs to all of us, not just the NHS. At New NHS Alliance, we see communities as assets and draw on the capabilities of the full range of sectors – such as housing, the police, education, fire service and local businesses. We call for local discussions, through the STPs process, to see where we can unlock these assets and hidden wisdom to find solution to some of the most wicked problems; the avoidance of social isolation, finding out ‘what matters to you’ as much as ‘what’s the matter with you’ and addressing the causes of the causes of health problems needs greater focus.”
“Greater efforts must be made to ensure patients are aware of the available self care resources and the excellent heath-care advice and support on offer at local community pharmacies. We deplore cuts in the community pharmacy services – high street access to support for minor illness and the management of long term conditions is needed now more than ever. Interventions such as patients having access to their records can also increase primary care capacity.”
New NHS Alliance also acknowledges that there are significant variation in operational quality – again, across the whole system – and that measures to improve the worst would help.
Dr Brian Fisher, Vice-Chair, commented: “General practice is under severe strain with too few GPs and increasing demand and a freezing financial climate.”
“There is evidence that improved GP access results in less demand at A+E and that the relevance of the assistance provided varies. We point to GP surgeries like Hope Citadel in Oldham where nurses help local people with financial and housing problems where these are the underlying reasons for presenting. And places like Wigan where social workers routinely signpost people back to community groups and sources of neighbourhood support. Hospitals also improve if they have well run emergency departments, improved flow through the hospital and effective arrangements for discharge. There are a number of ways in which A+E can safely reduce demand. For instance, routing to a primary care service based in the hospital the 30% of patients who do not need A+E.”
The NHS is not failing but it could be made to fail. The current casting of GPs as the weak link is inaccurate, unwise, unwelcome and likely to backfire. LMCs have already threatened to take industrial action.
It smacks of desperation on the part of the government to blame sectors of the NHS and care; to refuse to accept that there is a huge and growing problem in health and care delivery, and to play fast and loose with the facts about funding. Theresa May’s criticism of NHS England chief Simon Stevens for not doing enough to try to alleviate the crisis – despite his valiant efforts at system transformation – was both unreasonable and counter intuitive.
New NHS Alliance Chair co-authors international paper on father and child wellbeing
The paper, called ‘Evaluating a community-led project for improving fathers’ and children’s wellbeing in England’ explains how fathers in a community in the North West of England worked together to find their own sustainable solutions to their wellbeing issues. The focus of the work was to see what impact improving the wellbeing of fathers would have on their children.
‘When I grow up and have kids of my own I’ll bring them to [the project]. I know what my dad’s done for me. Everything he’s done for me I can pass on to my kids.’
The paper suggests that commissioners shift their focus from services delivered ‘to’ people to helping residents find their own solutions by working alongside them.
To request a copy of the article and view the abstract click here.
Missed our annual summit? Here are the highlights‘
None of us is smarter than all of us’
On 1st December we held our annual summit at the King’s Fund. You can view photos, video’s and tweets from the day on our website here
Comments on Twitter:
@nhsalliance : #healthcreation Hazel Stuteley: as a student nurse shocked by difference in health in people living in Deptford and those in Blackheath
@Alpha_mngtservs : Health creation is about communities; they hold the key to their health & wellbeing – panel @nhsalliance Listen to them #HealthCreation
Dr Mark Spencer steps down as Co Chair of New NHS Alliance
GP Mark Spencer, the co-chair of New NHS Alliance has stepped down from his role. Dr. Spencer has been instrumental in the re-launch of the Alliance, which now focuses on addressing health inequalities by ‘infecting the health system with wellness’. In his role as a Fleetwood GP he has led by example. He is featuring in a series of BBC programmes as ‘the doctor who wants to make his town better’.
Dr. Spencer wishes to focus on his clinical work and his leadership role with ‘A Healthier Fleetwood’ He retains a position on the National Executive of New NHS Alliance.
His co chair entrepreneurial Queen’s Nurse Heather Henry, thanked him by saying
‘Mark has been instrumental in completely re-launching New NHS Alliance. He is an ambassador for our approach to ‘health creation’ – a social model of health – in primary care. He will continue his influence through our national executive.’
Dr. Brian Fisher, also a practicing GP, will continue to work alongside Mrs. Henry as vice chair of New NHS Alliance.
Shared Society and Mental Health – PM’s vision
New NHS Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of the government’s intention to overhaul mental health services.
In particular, we applaud the focus on young people and the recognition that responsibilities for addressing people’s mental health problems lie beyond the NHS – with schools and employers mentioned in particular. Given that around half of all mental health problems start in adolescence while currently just 6% of the mental health budget is spent on children and young people, a much greater focus on the younger age-group is essential.
We welcome the emphasis in the Prime Minister’s vision of a ‘Shared Society’ on addressing social injustice and the link between this and health. There is strong evidence for this and we are very pleased that it has been highlighted. Social comparisons are extremely damaging both to mental and physical health as demonstrated by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett amongst others.
However, the connection between social injustice and mental health is lost later in her speech where the focus returns to a medical delivery model once mental health problems have become manifest. There is a much bigger job to do where mental health services themselves are designed to address, as Michael Marmot himself said, the causes of the causes of mental distress. Things like workplace stress, poor quality work and worklessness, childhood trauma, family breakdown, injustices in the welfare system, housing insecurity and homelessness. Until these causes are routinely considered by NHS services, we will be fighting a losing battle.
New NHS Alliance Chair and Queen’s Nurse, Heather Henry says “We do indeed need better access to mental health services, but we also need to fundamentally change the way we work across the whole of the NHS to understand and foster the causes of wellness and not just the causes of and management of mental illness. The Realising the Value report published last November by NHS England and others for example clearly indicates how the NHS and others can deliver social solutions.
Chief Executive, Merron Simpson says “We know of pockets of practice that go way beyond what the Prime Minister is advocating here in terms of creating health and turning people’s lives around. There is a need to reshape our health system to enable these to be much more widely adopted”.
To read the PM’s speech in full click here
In the News..
NHS conditions worst ever, say leading nurses BBC News
STPs published NHS England
Brain activity ‘key in stress link to heart disease’ BBC News
Majority of people would support raising National Insurance to fund the NHS YouGov
GPs asked to come into hospital to discharge patients and take on care Pulse
New NHS Alliance newsletter – January 2017