West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership is also known as an integrated care system (ICSs). We are all part of the Partnership.There are 42 integrated care systems in England. They are organisations that work together to prevent ill health and provide health and social care in an area. Watch this animation to find out more.
Our Partnership was formed in 2016. It is made up of the NHS, councils, care providers, hospices, Healthwatch, voluntary community social enterprises (VCSE) and communities. Together we support 2.7million people, including 260,000 unpaid carers. 23% (570,000) of the total population are children and young people. We are proud to be home to 20% of people from ethnic minority communities, and have a sense of pride in the richness, heritage and diversity of our communities.
Together we employ over 100,000 staff and our thanks go to them and the thousands of unpaid carers and volunteers, who without we could not deliver anything.
What has emerged across our area over the past five years is a Partnership model that tackles problems faced by people in our communities by seeing the local places as the building block for action. By working together with the people who live and work locally, we are able to build a picture of our Partnership from a local perspective, taking a place based approach that seeks to highlight the strengths, capacity and knowledge of all those involved. Our Partnership is the servant of place, with each bringing different, unique perspectives and strengths to the way we work.
We know that in some areas it makes sense to work together across the area. In doing so we apply three tests for joint working:
- Working at scale to ensure the best possible health outcomes for people
- Sharing good practice across the Partnership
- Working together to tackle complex difficult issues.
This way of working is supported by an agreed set of priority programmes of work. You can see some examples of the positive difference we have made together here.
An important part of the Partnership’s work is tackling health inequalities whilst improving the lives of the poorest the fastest. COVID-19, with its impact on those with the greatest challenges, including people with learning disabilities, minority ethnic communities and colleagues, adds urgency to our work and our recent review on this important area focuses on real action.
There will be an increased impact on inequalities over coming years because there is an increasing difference in health outcomes for people across our area, for example where people live, their homes, the community environment, family support and the life choices they can make are vital to whether they live a long, healthy, happy life. Improving people’s health and wellbeing is at the heart of all we do.
The factors that keep people healthy are much wider than the impact health and care services have alone. Working with local communities allows us to influence the impact which wider factors such as housing, employment, education, social networks and the environment have on people’s health and wellbeing.
The social and economic consequences of the pandemic are also key to the future wellbeing of our communities. The relationships we have with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority for the area’s economic recovery plan, Health Education England, the Academic Health Science Network, Leeds Academic Health Partnership, med-tech and the skills sector, including universities, helps us to look at what we can do together to develop and grow our workforce and support people into better jobs.
A key enabler for place-based working is having a clear framework for decision making at every level of our Partnership. This is supported by our politically led Partnership Board and local health and wellbeing boards. What we all have in common is our focus and collective force to improve people’s lives. We have a representative leader from our organisation on this Board.
Our Partnership approach is supported by provider organisations, including the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts and the Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Collaborative, and the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups, who also come together to make collective decisions.
Working together has led to genuine changes in hyper acute stroke units (the critical care people receive in the first 72 hours), vascular services, and assessment and treatment units for people with complex learning disabilities; specialised child and adolescent mental health services, and adult eating disorder care, to name a few.
It has also led to good practice being shared that saves lives and prevents illness, such as West Yorkshire Healthy Hearts Project which aims to prevent 1,200 heart attacks and strokes in the next ten years, and our work with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit on adversity, resilience and trauma. Traumatic experiences increase the risk of later development of poor mental health and increased risk of physical illnesses.
Over 100,000 people across West Yorkshire who were shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic received care and support from local councils and community partners. Together we have also delivered the West Yorkshire Vaccine Programme, with the support of hundreds of volunteers.
Every day, hundreds of people talk to healthcare professionals online, reducing the need to travel and helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. 99% of our GP practices are using GP online consultations offering 24/7 access to trusted health and care advice.
In addition to local place funded work, we have invested over £2.5m in the VCSE to continue their essential work. This stretches to the delivery of care as equal partners, for example in projects which supports men’s mental health as part of our suicide prevention strategy, the Grief and Loss Support Service and the staff mental health and wellbeing hub. We also recently awarded £553,000 Health Inequalities Grant Fund to 14 VCSE organisations and worked with the National Lottery to secure £90,000 funding for an additional four projects. All aimed at tackling health inequalities we know exist.
Integrated care systems
In February 2021 the Health and Social Care Secretary, with the support of NHS England and health and care system leaders, set out new proposals to build on the response to the pandemic as well as proposals which will bring health and care services closer together. As set out above, our Partnership already works closely together with good partner relationships.
Without our Partnership, our handling of the pandemic would have been much poorer. Issues like personal protective equipment supply, testing, supporting people who were shielding and mutual aid have been so much easier because of our good relationships.
The White Paper
New measures have been set out in a new government White Paper which includes modernising the legal framework to make the health and care system fit for the future. The proposals set out in the White Paper support health and care partnership like ours to deliver quality care to their communities, in a way that is less legally bureaucratic, more accountable and more joined up.
Many of the proposals in the White Paper are things that we already do as a Partnership, with local places continuing to manage and provide care locally.
Our Partnership will continue to be inclusive, with arrangements in place that work for us locally and at a West Yorkshire level, and most importantly for the people we support. The way local partners work together won’t change – at a high level it may be managed differently with many people not seeing any difference apart from the positives of joined up, seamless care. Public involvement at all levels is essential and will continue locally.
Under the proposals, our Partnership for West Yorkshire would become a statutory body. There will still be a Partnership Board with elected members involved. Alongside this there will be a new NHS Board to take on the commissioning functions of the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and financial accountability. We will be recruiting for a chair of this new board during the summer.
The Partnership will be able to delegate to place level and to provider collaboratives (for example West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts and the Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Programme) for them to manage their work best for local people. Place-based arrangements between councils, the NHS and providers of health and care will be left to local organisations to arrange based on what works best for local people. This is all about putting people at the heart of everything we do rather than structures.
The draft White Paper proposal includes a commitment to seek stability of employment for current staff working in clinical commissioning groups. This is essential as we need their skills and expertise at both a local and West Yorkshire level. One of our aims in West Yorkshire is to ensure as little disruption as possible while having the greatest possible impact. Any changes will build on our work to date and reflect and support what is already going on. Any changes made will not impact on other colleagues or the running of local care services.
Work in local places is not wholly defined by the latest policy developments. It is a continuum that stretches back in time, especially for local leaders, and staff, who have decades of experience as councillors, clinicians, social workers, therapists, GPs and third sector leaders. Without them we would achieve nothing.