NHS Primary Care: The Capacity Exists… Use it!

Imagine if…

  • Local services could be provided for the existing and future improvement of both physical and mental health wellbeing
  • This could be achieved through neighbourhood-level partnerships, collaborations and co-productions of like-minded individuals, business and community interest companies
  • These collaborations and co-productions could, for certain health issues, provide the opportunity to reduce the number of people needing to visit the GP or A&E 
  • Because of all of this, NHS local/regional capacity increased! 

But we don’t have to imagine, because these collaborations and co-productions are happening now and they are providing the opportunity to increase primary care capacity and potentially, reduce NHS resourcing stressors nationally. 

OMG! How and where?

Social Housing and Community Media are working together to improve the wellbeing of the local populations they serve by listening, discussing, identifying, enabling and creating local wellbeing capability through hyperlocal health “created by the neighbourhood, for the neighbourhood”

Is this important? Yes, because…

  • This is the capability and capacity which Simon Stevens (CEO NHS England), through the NHS Five Year Forward View and the local applications thereof (Sustainability & Transformation Plans), is telling Primary Care and NHS Trust CEO’s to find and deliver between now and 2020
  • It means that your local NHS can save time and money by: 
    • Not reinventing service provision wheels 
    • Leveraging established, proven, trusted communication channels to engage and establish meaningful dialogues with neighbourhoods
    • Using community interest companies already addressing the physical and mental health wellbeing needs of local people

Still, so what?

Social Housing and Community Media engage with and support some of the most vulnerable people in our society – the aged, unemployed, under-educated. Those who are most likely to be socially and economically disadvantaged. Those who, proportionately, access and rely upon NHS services more so than other members of society. 

By providing primary care with additional, existing, trusted community capability to improve the wellbeing of this vulnerable population, creates the opportunity to alleviate some of the resourcing stressors across the NHS, affecting all of us. 

Future collaboration and co-production could be structured to provide the clinical evidence which is necessary to drive performance improvement in the medium to long-term. For now, however, let’s realise a couple of the key tenets of the NHS Sustainability & Transformation Plan and “think about populations, not institutions or organisational form” and “spend time on identifying the practical opportunities and solutions, not endlessly debating the scale of the challenge”. 

In other words, Primary Care needs to use what exists now and to get on with it!!


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