Practitioners and leaders from across the health and social care system have met to discuss the draft Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) strategy. In a half day conference at Villa Park on Wednesday 5 December, delegates explored if proposed STP priorities are the right ones for the people of Birmingham and Solihull.
The event was structured around three workshops on the STP’s priorities, Maternity, Childhood and Adolescence – led by Sarah-Jane Marsh, Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Adulthood and Work – led by Nick Page, Chief Executive of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Ageing Well and Later Life – led by Richard Kirby, Chief Executive of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Delegates at the event included non-executive directors, lay advisors, governors, elected members, senior officers and front line staff from all of the STP’s partner organisations. Representatives from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector were also in attendance.
The Rt. Hon Jacqui Smith, Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), hosted the conference and STP Chair and Solihull Councillor Bob Sleigh OBE and Interim STP System Leader Paul Jennings opened proceedings. Councillor Sleigh began by saying he wanted to draw on the expertise in the room to discuss the best way forward and acknowledged major pressures being placed on the health and social care system made it “essential for us to work together to shape the future”.
Councillor Sleigh explained the approach taken by the STP in its strategy, saying: “We want to shape our services around the decisions people want to take at every stage of their lives. We also want to shape services around communities to help deliver these priorities.” Interim STP System Leader Paul Jennings outlined next steps: “If we are to make a difference, it will be through our work with people. Public health and engagement with local people will be vital.” Mr Jennings reiterated the STP’s determination to address the socio-economic factors affecting people’s health and wellbeing, “The single most important thing you can do for someone’s health is to give them a meaningful job,” he said.
In her presentation, Sarah-Jane Marsh, Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, praised staff: “One of our greatest assets is the amazing, passionate staff out there working to make a difference to children and young people”. Ms Marsh said recent engagement activity had found young people were very concerned about body image but also social problems such as homelessness and knife crime. “They want to be proud of where they live. We have heard some very powerful messages from children and young people,” she said.
In the Adulthood and Work session led by Solihull CEO Nick Page, delegates discussed how to bring people into the workplace and keep them there. With an estimated £12.6bn lost to the regional economy due to mental ill health, the importance of Mental Health First Aid Training in the workplace was highlighted. Employer Willmott Dixon has embraced mental health first aid training for its workforce with impressive results. “Keeping people in work also reduces pressure on public services as people are healthier and happier,” Mr Page said. He also emphasised the importance of adding ‘social value’ through public sector procurement processes, such as supplier Engie agreeing to offer an apprentice scheme as part of its contract.
In the Ageing Well and Later Life workshop led by Richard Kirby, CEO of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, attendees agreed the importance of getting social care right for older people but that there were no easy answers. Outlining the Ageing Well strategy, Mr Kirby said: “the role of carers is mission critical”. The Ageing Well and Later Life portfolio is arranged in three work streams; Solihull Together, Birmingham Older People’s programme and End of Life Care. Work has already begun in Birmingham to give older people the “right care, in the right place, at the right time.” One delegate made the point “as a system we need to change our approach to risk, so we can deliver services in a way people want, not what we think they need.” “There’s a big commitment from STP partners to work out the answers to the difficult questions we face,” Mr Kirby replied.
The conference represents the start of the conversation about getting it right for local people. Commenting on the event, interim system lead Paul Jennings said: “One of the simplest and most important things we are doing is getting people together; orchestrating the system in its broadest sense.” Wider engagement with local communities on the STP draft strategy will commence in Spring 2019.