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Health should be at the heart of every decision in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

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An independent report argues changes should be made to provide a more joined up health care system bringing services closer to the people.

The report, commissioned by Cambridgeshire mayor James Palmer, also urges action to "level up" outcomes in areas of deprivation such as parts of Fenland.

The report was made public as the result of a Freedom of Information request and is still subject to consideration by the Mayor and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Mayor James Palmer (44176099)
Mayor James Palmer (44176099)

To achieve better long-term health, the report recommends, post Covid, a more local and simpler way of promoting health across four key themes: the whole person, whole community, whole region, whole system.

It argues services should be brought closer to communities and highlights examples – such as pilots in St Ives and Soham – which have succeeded in breaking down barriers between organisations, energising the local community, and putting a stronger focus on improving lifelong health.

The key aim of the report is to put health at the heart of every decision and to stimulate discussion to improve people’s health and wellbeing by strengthening a shared sense of responsibility, accountability, and willingness to work together.

The report’s vision of prevention and care focuses on four key principles: To think holistically and systemically about health;build on existing success; consider investment not cost and the answer is local.

In particular, a section of the report looks at lessons learned from Covid and argues that the better collaboration between organisations which the crisis has required should now be made a permanent feature of a more localised system, with more devolved responsibility for local authorities and communities.

The report is the result of a two year investigation by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Public Service Reform chaired by Dr Andy Wood, who was appointed by the Combined Authority Board in September 2018.

Whilst the Combined Authority itself has no role in health across the region, the devolution deal committed it to transforming public service delivery.

Members decided to make an initial focus on health and social care. Health outcomes vary widely between the wealthiest and the most deprived parts of the area: life expectancy in Fenland is four years less than in South Cambridgeshire.

Mayor Palmer said: “We thank Dr Andy Wood and the commissioners for the extensive work on this report which comes at an important time and which takes stock of the needs of health care reform in a post pandemic world.

"Their recommendations rightly recognise that Covid has forced organisations and people to work better together.

“The Combined Authority has no health role in the region, but our devolution deal commitment has enabled us to be a critical friend.

"Authority members currently take the view that it would be sensible to consider further, including in particular awaiting a recovery from the current renewed Covid pandemic, before deciding a way forward on issues relating to health and care services.”

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