As many of my readers will know, I’m terrifically interested in what goes on in my City of Leeds. The event held at the Civic Hall to encourage civic leadership across the City was a great chance to meet with people doing interesting things- from small social enterprises and community groups to the CEOs of our major institutions.
Integrating Health and Social Care
I work constantly to attempt to influence health and social care organisations to work more innovatively and to offer a more integrated experience for people using the services. After all, who cares about whether a service they receive is delivered by a local Trust, by the Council, by the Voluntary sector or if it’s delivered within community groups or social enterprises? When experiencing services, what matters is the quality of the experience, not the organisational structure behind it. So I was pleased to be able to meet with so many others who were representing large and small organisations who work for social impact in the City.
Health Inequality=Social Inequality
Rob Webster, who is CEO of one of our Trusts and a great Twitter follow to boot described the situation perfectly;
“For every mile you walk from North West Leeds heading South, the life expectancy of the residents drops by a year. Residents in South Leeds live 10 fewer years than residents in North West Leeds.”
One of the challenges for people interested in healthcare is that so much about health outcomes doesn’t depend on health intervention AT ALL. I know this sounds a bit strange, but we know that social inequality, access to green space, whether or not a parent reads to you as a child, an countless other factors are really important for health (and life) outcomes. So actually, people who care about health care have a responsibility to act on social inequality and to improve health outcomes in this way. This is great because it means that the creative possibilities for collaboration are extended across sectors- whether it’s a youth project, a local church, a small business offering employment, or any number of other possibilities, we can collaborate to drive up health outcomes and reduce social inequality.
Digital Health Centre of Excellence
My goal is to ensure Leeds is seen as a centre of excellence in the development and delivery of digital health and digitally-enabled social care. Many people I met agreed that this forms part of our civic future, because the people of Leeds need to have efficient and effective services despite a financial environment that ensures we have to think radically different. Because people recognise that we have to work together to make an impact on this. Because it’s a great way to develop the City’s economic outlook and provide jobs. Because we have some of the best hospitals and health services in the country. Because we have all the structural advantage of the NHS Information Centre and the NHS Commissioning Board. Because it’s the right thing to do.
Recently, the local Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board have crowd-sourced information about how digital products and social media can support people in the city who use health and social care services- expect to see more of this as we move forward.
We have a vibrant digital sector, both within health care and in other digital fields (did you know that Grand Theft Auto was written in Leeds?) We already have great initiatives such as GoOn Leeds, Leeds Social Media Surgeries (TONIGHT at the Civic Hall from 6pm, by the way!), and the fabulous Leeds Digital Festival. Let’s make it even better.
Digital Conference and Hack v2
I’m already working towards the Digital Centre of Excellence, as are many other people all over the city. This year, we held the first Digital Health Conference and Hack, and we’re planning another one for next April. This time, we’re going to look at open source solutions in healthcare, described today by Dick Vinegar as “the future of Health IT”. We already have the excellent open source portal developed at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust by Tony Shannon- there’s a lot more we can do with this agenda.
We also have several totally original digitally enabled health innovations going on locally- and I can’t wait to share more details with you. We’re hoping you’ll join us.