The impact of scrutiny in the healthcare system – guest blog
Councillor Jonathan Glanz, from Westminster City Council, provides valuable insight in to scrutiny of health and wellbeing.
Scrutiny adds value in a number of areas, particularly when it drives improved services and outcomes for residents. Here at Westminster City Council, the Adults and Health Policy and Scrutiny Committee set up a task group in 2017 to examine health and wellbeing centres, and gather examples of best practice. The ambition for this piece of scrutiny work was to provide a tool to facilitate more integrated health care, identifying gaps or opportunities for greater integration, and it has potential to have far-reaching impact on the lives of Westminster residents.
The task group worked collaboratively during all phases of the work, beginning with a period of desk research in July and August 2017. Members then commenced a series of active fact-finding visits, with the task group’s first meeting taking place in Church Street, Westminster. The regeneration of this area is a key priority for Westminster City Council, and there is an ambitious masterplan for the Church Street area, including plans for a health and wellbeing centre. Members were able to walk around the community and see a place where there was the possibility for their recommendations to be implemented.
Other places featured in the task group’s work included the Bromley by Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets, the Well Centre in Streatham, and St Charles Health and Wellbeing Centre in Kensington. As the task group proceeded on its mission, it became clear that health and wellbeing centres offer the potential to save money, use resources strategically, and improve the management of ill health. Acute or chronic ill-health has predominantly been the main focus of the health services and clinical medicine, but integration of health and wellbeing harnesses sport, culture and the arts in the promotion and maintenance of good health, and could build resilient Westminster communities.
The report produced by the task group is a synthesis of those examples of excellence, and contains a menu of components for consideration as part of integrated health commissioning across a range of ages and needs. These include the clinical, physical and mental health needs of young children and families; adolescents and young adults; and older people. As the task group found, there are numerous resources available, including knowledge sharing by organisations such as the Bromley by Bow and Well Centres, which would allow Westminster City Council to work collaboratively to provide re-imaginings of the health and wellbeing centre in a Westminster context.
Whilst reviewing health and wellbeing, the task group also found that adolescent and youth health in Westminster and nationally is a lacuna in health provision. 29% of Westminster residents are aged under 25, with a higher percentage of adolescents living in the Church Street area. Adolescent health presents challenges, as adolescence is a very formative phase of life, with a complex interweaving web of influences and access to rights, and adult health can be determined by health in adolescence, including mental health.
The report was launched during Global Teen Health Week in March 2018 at a reception hosted by the Lord Mayor, who supported charities working to combat social isolation in the elderly and improve social mobility for adolescents. The reception was attended by a wide variety of stakeholders and organisation representatives, including clinicians, NHS Trust and CCG members, third sector representatives, Westminster’s Youth Council, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing as well as council members and officers. The round-table reception launched the report but also gave this diverse group of stakeholders the opportunity to exchange ideas and expertise. This has successfully launched a series of conversations about health and wellbeing in Westminster. Implementation of the recommendations could significantly improve adolescent and adult health in Westminster now and in the future.
The full report is available on the Westminster City Council website at: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/www.westminster.gov.uk/files/health_and_wellbeing_centres.pdf
Cllr Jonathan Glanz is Westminster City Council’s Chairman of the Adults and Health Policy and Scrutiny Committee.