Closing comments from Rob Webster
West Yorkshire and Harrogate’s cultural vibrancy is borne from cities, towns, villages with strong diverse communities and even stronger identities. As a Partnership we are extremely proud to work alongside and represent the 2.7million people living across the area.
The healthy life expectancy of people living in some areas is below the national average, and the inequalities between communities are significant. Working together with communities is what motivates local health and care partners to work as one partnership together, putting the needs of people first.
As set out in this review report (summary) West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership has big ambitions to tackle health inequalities and support Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought these issues into even sharper focus, with inequalities seen in deaths for specific ethnic groups.
We will now act on the findings from this review, built on the dual foundations of good evidence and the testimony of people with lived experience.
Our independent review has again repeated the facts about the inequalities by ethnicity and has shown that BAME communities can be vulnerable to poorer health outcomes for far too many reasons. There are key factors that can increase inequalities further such as intersectionality with deprivation. In West Yorkshire and Harrogate around half a million people are living in the 10% most deprived communities nationally; a clear picture is that of a social gradient - the more deprived the place where you live, the higher the mortality rate and the shorter your life expectancy.
People from BAME backgrounds, like all people, experience a range of risks to their health throughout their lives. These risks vary significantly depending on their ethnicity. For example, people from BAME backgrounds are overrepresented in the most deprived 10% of our population across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, and income varies by ethnic group.
The economic impact of COVID-19 has led to a recession which brings additional risks to the mental and physical health of our population – all themes covered in this report.
The report also shines a light on the economic benefits of the health and care system. We are creators of good jobs, have large capital schemes underway, lead innovation in med-tech and digital work. These potential benefits for both the economy and for local people must be secured as we invest in health and care.
It is our time to step up, to better support staff, and to build a new resilient workforce for the future which is truly reflective of the communities we serve with a leadership that has the talent, which has often gone unrecognised, and the commitment from us all.
As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be important to rebuild and shape our local economy to meet the needs of all people – irrespective of social class, ethnicity or other factors. The Partnership sees that we have a role in tackling economic, social and health inequalities barriers to achieving long-term prosperity and considerably reducing the impact on BAME communities and colleagues.
Not all experiences are equal and our current language does not account for the different ways in which different ethnic minorities experience racism.
Racism is experienced differently and to different degrees by different groups of people. It is unhelpful to suggest that BAME groups are in perfect racial solidarity - that all racism is the same and that all ‘BAME’ people have the same life experiences and values. The experiences of BAME communities and staff, in and out of the workplace, differ considerably and it is our role as a large health and care partnership to take this into account and make a positive difference to people’s lives with them.
I would personally like to thank everyone for their hard work and involvement in this report. This includes the Partnership’s leadership executive group, our People Board and of course the West Yorkshire and Harrogate BAME network.
I would like to also take the opportunity to thank all colleagues involved in the Review Panel, including voluntary and community partners who have given their time freely without hesitation to do what is right for all communities across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.
My thanks also to Professor Dame Donna Kinnair for her inspirational leadership in challenging us all to think differently, to make change happen and giving us the confidence we need to get on and move forward at pace without hesitation.
We have the potential to make the work of this review something unique and special. I’m reassured that this is a significant step forward that will be closely monitored as progress is made through our action plan with clear timescales for delivery. This will amplify and extend the work already underway. Above all, we now have an opportunity to improve and to save lives – it’s imperative we seize the moment to make something of value we can be proud of together.