In March I attended “New Models of Care: Working Together for a Healthy London” an event organised by the London Voluntary Service Council. The title refers to the government’s “Five Year Forward View” of the NHS which argued for a “more engaged relationship with patients, carers and citizens so that we can promote wellbeing and prevent ill-health.” The voluntary and community sector is very much at the core of this and the document specifically referred to Voluntary Action Rotherham’s Social Prescribing Service.
The day began with Jemma Gilbert from the Healthy London Partnership giving an overview of some of the capital’s key health issues. She viewed London as being “obesogenic” with childhood obesity levels being higher than New York City’s. A partial cause of this is the proliferation of cheap chicken takeaway shops which are seen as cool by many young people. In an article in the Guardian Sir Sam Everington, a Tower Hamlets GP, noted that there were 42 chicken shops per secondary school in the borough. Criticisms of youth culture weren’t Gilbert’s only target, us adults are also part of the problem, and not only with levels of drinking and smoking. She referred to the sedentary nature of much office work and called for changes to workplace culture by, for example, having walking meetings.
Dr Raj Karsandas, also from the Healthy London Partnership, talked about how he had become evangelical about social prescribing. However, he also stated that referrals to social activities such as befriending can be forgotten by GP’s who have a limited time to see patients. GP’s and social prescribing practitioners were reliant upon numerous, often out of date, service directories which were “an absolute nightmare”. A number of delegates supported this view and called for collaboration between VCSE organisations in producing better service directories.
Presentations on co-production and commissioning were given by Greenwich Co-ordinated Care, Age UK Sutton and City & Hackney Together. Afternoon workshops looked at social prescribing, funding & commissioning models and integrated care in London.
Matt Scott presented the draft interim report which looked at how VCSE health practitioners could address what was termed a “defining dilemma of our times”:
“Not only do groups have to do more with less, as austerity politics scales back investment in the sector but that with the increase in pressure we become less able to work together, more isolated, less able to exercise our collective voice to articulate collective needs, leading to even less investment and an increasingly marginalised role in health services.”
As well as recommending more collaboration between local VCSE in bidding for health and well-being contracts the report also contained a call for action to VCSE health practitioners to address deficits in support and to co-ordinate a London conference. As the London Mayoral campaign is now in full swing the LVSC’s Big Ask: Manifesto for the Mayor of London was reiterated and pertinent to some of the discussions at the end of the day were that the new mayor should ensure that the VCSE sector is recognised and included in GLA policy and delivery, co-produce a London VCSE strategy and facilitate private sector donations to VCSE groups.
Presentations from the event can be found here.
There are further events for London based VCSE health practitioners and organisations to discuss the way forward for health care in the capital including the Healthy London Partnership’s Transforming Primary Care on April 13th and Health Education England’s AHP’s Moving Forward on April 20th.