Stephen Prince on work experience with Leeds City Council gives his opinion on the Health and Wellbeing Board, Wednesday 22 January 2014.
“As somebody who has lived in Leeds all his life, I still find it interesting hearing about how the city is changing”
I am currently on work experience with Leeds City Council and on Wednesday I attended the Health and Wellbeing Board. I found the board meeting very interesting, whilst at the same time some bits were difficult to understand. There were many reasons for this. First of all, as somebody who has lived in Leeds all his life, I still find it interesting hearing about how the city is changing, but I normally find my information out via newspapers or the internet. So, to get the perspective from inside the boardroom was a unique experience for me.
Obviously some of the terminology and the discussions were a bit too technical for me but it was interesting to see how the council is working with other people such as the NHS and third sector. I actually didn’t know until recently that Public Health was part of Leeds city council – I thought it was just hospitals and doctors, so I was fascinated to find public health, like so many other things and services is a part of the council.
As I am really interested in sport and health, working with the health and wellbeing team has been a really good experience for me and given me a broader knowledge of what the council are doing to improve in this sector.
One big topic the board spoke about was “BCF”. I had to ask a colleague what that was and it stands for the “Better Care Fund”. I knew money is a big issue for the council in general – you hear about cutbacks all the time on the news – but what I didn’t realise how much things are changing. Less money is available but everyone expects to still have the same services and the support the public needs to be there. How is that possible? It was interesting to hear that- to be blunt- we have to manage expectations against what is physically possible.
A topic that stood out to me was how much we can do for one and other as a community in regards to public health. The Public Health team are trying to engage a lot more with the public and that made me think: If we physically saw somebody in need we would help them, so if we feel somebody needs more help dealing with other health problems, why don’t we try help them as well? So I did some research to find out if there is a place to contact the council to let them know somebody needs support or more health care if they are already receiving some form of support. The best link I found was: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/Public-Health-guide.aspx, I found other pages saying “To find out more and to get an assessment, talk to your social worker or GP, or call the council’s contact center on 0113 222 4401.” It made me wonder if we could have something that made it more obvious who to contact and what might happen? After speaking to my colleague I discovered that there is something called PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) offer confidential advice, support and information on health related matters.
Would I recommend going to the meetings? Yes. Not only if you are interested about your health or that of people you know, but also to understand what is happening around Leeds.
The next meeting is on Wednesday 12th of February at 4:00pm at The Carriageworks, The Electric Press, 3 Millennium Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 3AD and I found more information like previous papers and background reading at www.leeds.gov.uk/healthandwellbeing. You can also follow @HWBBoardLeeds on twitter for up to date information and engagement. To get a bit more information about who is on the Health and Wellbeing Board and what there aims are, go to: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Best-City-for-Health-and-Wellbeing.aspx
Stephen Prince, 22