Health and social care round-up: September 2020

Our round-up is back, after a period of focusing on priority communications around covid-19. This recurring blog post aims to inform voluntary and public sector colleagues about national health and social care policy, with an emphasis on volunteering and the voluntary sector, and is part of NCVO’s work as a member of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

NHS Reset

#NHSReset is a national campaign to shape what the health and social care system should look like after the covid-19 pandemic.

It aims to:

  • ‘build back better’, with an emphasis on improving services for communities affected by severe economic and social disruption
  • reset ambitions for what the health and social care system of the future should look like, including its relationship with the public
  • support local health and social care systems to ‘lock in’ the beneficial changes they have collectively brought forward.

To learn more about the campaign see the two recent reports from NHS Confederation:

New agency to replace Public Health England

Many of the functions of Public Health England (PHE) will be merged with the NHS test and trace service and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to form a new agency: the National Institute for Health Protection. The ‘health improvement’ function of PHE will not be part of the merger. This is the part of PHE that is concerned with screening and immunisation, health inequalities, obesity, diabetes, mental health, and other matters of concern to the voluntary sector.

A government update on 15 September commits to wide engagement on the future of this function, and outlines various options such as a new agency and devolving functions to local authorities. Since PHE is one of the three public sector partners that sponsor the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, we will be closely following progress and ensuring that voluntary sector and volunteering remain a high priority in any new agencies or structures.

Call for case studies – community action improving health

Do you have an example of a community project where volunteering or community action has led to positive health outcomes in a local community?

Public Health England is researching current practice on ‘whole system’ approaches to community-centred public health. This builds on previous guidance on community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing. Community-centred approaches are those that mobilise assets within communities, encourage equity and social connectedness and increase people’s control over their health and lives.

Having community-centred public health systems is important to reducing health inequalities. This is where the voluntary sector and community action can play a great role. In fact, most of the public documents talk about the importance of the voluntary sector, but we’re lacking in examples. NCVO and PHE are particularly interested in how volunteers in the community and/or voluntary organisations have set up health improvement initiatives in line with PHE guidelines on ‘community-centred public health’. This could be in response to covid-19 or otherwise. Your case study will contribute to PHE’s ongoing work in this area.

We will work with you to write up your project as a case study for publication on NCVO Knowhow and NHS websites. Please email publicservices@ncvo.org.uk if you would like to be considered.

Rolling out social prescribing – voluntary sector perspective

National Voices has published a new report: Rolling Out Social Prescribing: Understanding the experience of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. The report found numerous examples of social prescribing working well, with good integration into primary care networks. However, it did also identify several areas for improvement.

The report highlights the importance of strong relationships between voluntary organisations and primary care teams, the potential impact of taking a greater focus on tackling health inequalities, and the need to provide increased funding to organisations experiencing greater demand for their services through social prescribing. The report also stresses the importance of adequate funding for voluntary organisations overall, ‘many of which have long been underfunded’.

New fund to give babies from deprived areas or BAME backgrounds the best start in life

Applications are open for a share of a £3.3m fund to support community projects in England aimed at tackling obesity, reducing smoking and improving learning among mothers and young babies. The fund has been launched with the theme of ‘starting well’ to improve outcomes for mothers and babies in deprived areas or from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds from preconception to up to two-and-a-half years of age.

This will pay for three-year projects run by voluntary organisations and social enterprises to help level up deprived communities and give children the best possible start in life.

Stay informed

If you work in the voluntary or public sector and you want to be kept informed about national health and social care policy, with an emphasis on volunteering and the voluntary sector, please subscribe here.

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Lev Pedro Lev is a senior consultant with a special interest in public service transformation, partnerships and consortia. He also leads on NCVO’s relationships with infrastructure organisations.

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