This month is unusual. We have two meetings of the Health and Wellbeing Board, the cross-city meeting where leaders from across the health and care sector in Leeds work strategically together to see how we can most effectively meet the health and care challenges of the city. Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing board explains the challenges the Board faces.
Our first meeting was needed because the announcement of funding reductions for Public Health and for the council more generally mean we will have to take radical steps to plan how we can deal with the need to deliver more to a bigger, older population with less money to pay for that.
Although we have yet to get final details of the Public Health funding cuts, we estimate there will be a recurrent reduction of £3.9m from 2016/17 and a further £1.1m reduction in 2017/18. We also have a major challenge to the care we provide through Adult Social Care, and I will write separately on this later.
More broadly, we know from work completed in summer 2014 the scale of the 5-year future financial challenge facing the city’s health and social care partnership was estimated at £650m. The month’s second Health and Wellbeing Board will hear details of an updated assessment carried out on the basis of each partner’s agreed 2015/16 financial plan which suggests shortfall range of values between £627m and £931m dependent on differing assumptions.
Now we know it is common sense that prevention of poor health is key to the long term future of the NHS, as well as the health of people in our city. The NHS five year plan and NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens make it clear that the financial pressures faced by the NHS can only be made worse if there is not widespread preventative health work delivered. The threats from what can be thought of as lifestyle diseases – such as diabetes, some cancers, oral health, sexual health and more – are best dealt with by preventing them in the first place.
So I am pleased that members of the Health and Wellbeing Board, representing the commissioners and main NHS providers of health and care services, as well as representatives of patients, have agreed that we will work together in partnership to respond to these cuts in order to best support the population we serve.
Where organisations have to make difficult decisions we will see if other parts of the system can offer support or alternative provision; where funding can no longer be found, we will work with providers to manage reductions in their funding and urge them to do likewise with their service users.
We know these are cuts to health spending which will surely have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of people in Leeds, from Wetherby to West Ardsley, from Hunslet to Otley. But we will do what we can, where we can – in spite of the significant reductions in funding from central government – so we can continue strive to meet our commitment to improve the health of the poorest fastest and make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing.
More details of the Health and Wellbeing board meetings can be found here
You can still comment on the new Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2016-2021. The Health and Wellbeing Board would like to hear your views on what is being proposed. Visit the Inspiring Change website to learn more and have your say.