As the whole health and care service tries to cope with unprecedented pressure and demand, organisations are looking at how people’s health and wellbeing can be supported outside of traditional NHS settings, bringing services into communities.
Our briefing, Bringing care closer to home, gives examples of NHS organisations working in partnership to deliver initiatives which help people stay well. For example, Health Education and Improvement Wales and Natural Resources Wales are working together to promote green social prescribing among trainee GPs; Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is using its creative partnership with Welsh National Opera to provide rehabilitation support to those with long COVID; and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board is working with local schools, providing support to children with stammers to help give them the confidence to communicate more effectively.
Only by working across boundaries will we be able to make strides as a nation to narrowing the health inequalities gap.
A new briefing from the Welsh NHS Confederation Health and Wellbeing Alliance, in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), evidences how the NHS, local government and third sector organisations across Wales are working to reduce poverty, ill health and inequalities by breaking down barriers across sectors, including: health, social services, housing, the arts, benefits and welfare advice, transport, loneliness and isolation, climate change, air pollution and much more. This follows Mind the gap, a major report from the Alliance and the RCP, endorsed by 50 health and care organisations across Wales.
We know health and wellbeing is not a standalone issue, stretching far beyond the NHS, a fact only amplified by the cost-of-living crisis. Only by working across boundaries will we be able to make strides as a nation to narrowing the health inequalities gap. Everything affects health reiterates our call for a cross-government delivery plan on poverty and inequalities, including details of what every Welsh Government department is doing to tackle poverty, and how ministers are working together to reduce the impact of deprivation.
As the NHS prepares for a tough winter, NHS leaders recognise that building on partnership working is part of the solution to responding to the demands across the system.
As an organisation, we’ve been working across sector boundaries, including through our Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Arts Council of Wales which has been in place since 2018. As part of the MoU, we’ve been championing the Arts and Health Coordinators Capacity Programme and commissioned an independent evaluation of the programme. The evaluation found the programme has helped improve the health and wellbeing of NHS patients, staff and the wider population. The report evidences how the programme has helped build credibility for arts and health work across the health and care system, leading to the delivery of good quality arts and health activity, helping develop arts and health strategies in some health boards, and supporting health board priorities. Watch this video to see some of this work in action.
Another example of where partnership working is only growing in necessity is social care. We welcomed the Expert Group Report ‘Towards a National Care and Support Service for Wales’, which recognises the need to work towards systems working together seamlessly, among other key priorities. The report highlights the role of local authorities in managing local partnership arrangements as well as the importance of co-producing care with citizens. It's a salient point that partnership working does not just occur between organisations, but with service users, too.
As the NHS prepares for a tough winter, NHS leaders recognise that building on partnership working is part of the solution to responding to the demands across the system. We must work with partners across sector boundaries to provide person-centred care and implement initiatives designed to prevent illness and alleviate future demand, helping to keep people well and create a stronger, healthier population.