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'A focus on health creation is essential for a sustainable NHS'

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A poll taken at the recent New NHS Alliance Health Creation Action Summit revealed that over 95% of voting delegates believe that ‘If we adopt health creating practices, there will be a positive impact on cross-sector working’.

Given that we’re currently on our fourth attempt at integration (integration pioneers, better care fund, new models of care and latterly sustainability and transformation plans) and the pace of integration hasn’t exactly been rapid, we should take this seriously. Have we perhaps been taking the integration challenge too literally or looking in the wrong places? Have we been too preoccupied with trying to integrate a means-tested social care with a non-means-tested health service. Have we missed the wood for the trees?

Health Creation is about understanding what makes people well (rather than what makes them ill) and working in partnership with people, populations and patients to enable them to increase their wellbeing. At a personal level, we know that having sufficient levels of the 3Cs – control, contact and confidence – are core to our wellbeing.

Delegates heard from a range of organisations, from general practices to housing organisations, from pharmacies to fire service, that have all adopted health creating practices; practices that help to increase people’s levels of the 3Cs. We found remarkable similarity in the features of these practices irrespective of profession or sector, and we started to fashion a common vision and language to articulate what we need to do, collectively, to build a health creating health service. We also learned that the changes required to enable people to ‘create health’ don’t have to be big; in complex systems, small changes in practice can make a big difference to people.

Given that the gap in funding is growing notwithstanding the latest announcement to allow a 2% or 3% increase in council tax – which will do little to improve the situation and could worsen it in poorer localities. Our ambition, therefore, is for health creating practices to become the norm across the NHS, social care and beyond, alongside prevention-focused and clinical practices. This is not just ‘nice to have’ but essential; we believe this is absolutely necessary if our health service is to become sustainable again.

Merron Simpson, chief executive, New NHS Alliance


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