We all know that people across the country place a very high value on the NHS and are protective of the services it provides. However, the way in which healthcare is delivered today in the 21st century is very different to when the NHS was established in 1947 and the NHS is now facing increasing challenges for a number of reasons.
In response to these rising pressures, the NHS has published its Long Term Plan. This follows a commitment for increased funding to the NHS by the Government. The plan places a great emphasis on closer working between health and social care, helping people to stay healthy and preventing people becoming unwell. There will also be more use of digital technology and health and care staff working together as teams to deliver better care to people.
So what does this mean for Wirral?
Wirral will receive extra money but this is not the only answer to the things we must do to make our local health and care system work better and to be sustainable. Wirral has some significant challenges including:
- An already difficult financial position – we are consistently spending more than we receive so we need to do things differently
- Pressures on our local NHS services means more people are waiting for longer to get the care and treatment they need
- Wirral has an older population compared with the rest of England and this requires extra resources
- The gap in life expectancy in Wirral is 10 years – people in West Wirral will live 10 years longer compared to those in Bidston
We also know that many people do not get the ‘joined up’ health and care they need because different services are provided by different organisations and this can sometimes result in delays and creates extra pressure for our local services.
In order to make thing better, the local NHS organisations along with Wirral Council have formed the Healthy Wirral partnership and we will be working with our staff and the public to make our local health and care services better and sustainable.
How will we do this?
We have already integrated our commissioning functions across health, social care and public health. This means that our planning will be more joined up and will work better.
We also want to change the way in which we plan services. At the moment we plan services for the Wirral as a whole and we want to make some of our services more tailored to the needs of local communities. We call this ‘Place Based Care’.
What does it mean for people?
People won’t see services change immediately. We have developed our Healthy Wirral Plan for the next 5 years and this incorporates the requirements of the NHS Long Term Plan and details our priorities and how we will go about doing our work. It’s important that we carefully consider what we need to do and engage the people of Wirral in seeking views and opinions.
We do know that in the future more services will be organised locally and people will supported better by a range of professionals, some of which will be new such as Social Prescribers and Physicians Assistants. This also means working more with voluntary organisations and groups to help people stay healthy and active in their local communities.
It is also important that we understand the wider reasons why some people lead less healthy lives than others. Our partnership with Wirral Council ensures that factors such as housing, education and local environments are considered and we can all work together to support people to lead healthier lives.
Place Based Care in Wirral has taken significant steps in 2018 with the formation of Wirral neighbourhoods. Wirral has been divided into nine neighbourhoods, all with a population of communities between 30-50,000 people. We have started to use the information we have to determine what the people in these neighbourhoods need. The recent introduction of Primary Care Networks as part of the Long Term Plan compliments our neighbourhood approach, recognising the importance of the role that General Practitioners and primary care staff play in local communities.
The Healthy Wirral Partners are committed to engaging the people of Wirral as we move forward with our plans. There will be lots opportunities to give your views and get involved in shaping your local health and care services.