WE MUST MEET THE HEALTH NEEDS OF ALL YORK RESIDENTS DESPITE THE CUTS TO THE NHS
Guildhall councillor, Denise Craghill has reported on the latest of York Green Party’s health-focused actions by giving her comments on York city council’s draft Health & Well Being Strategy, submitted 22 January 2017. The strategy sets out the health and wellbeing priorities for our city over the next 5 years but she believes it must make more reference to the under-funding and potential crisis facing the NHS.
“This Health & Well Being Strategy is driven by the need to reduce demands on statutory services, to keep people out of hospital, away from A & E and where possible away from GP surgeries too. Prevention, early intervention, health promotion, social prescribing, community services etc etc are all very positive if properly funded but we know they are attempting to achieve this with less rather than more funding. Additional demands from the public are not the root cause of the problem but rather a failure by Government to fully fund and support our NHS as a universal public service.”
On issues of employment & low pay, Cllr Craghill would like the strategy to be much clearer on what the real difficulties facing many people in York are:-
“the problem is not so much access to employment as access to an adequate income – low paid jobs and low household incomes are a significant problem in York and can often link to ill health, particularly when housing is so expensive. The strategy should make this clear.”
On young people‘s issues Cllr Craghill would like to see more clarity on how the Health & Wellbeing Board will act on residents’ hopes for more play spaces, better air quality and life skills teaching in schools. Specifically with regards to physical health and as part of York Green party’s current air-quality improvement campaign, she would expect the strategy to mention the rising numbers of children and young people being treated for asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Mental health being a key theme is welcomed. The main additions she would like to see highlighted in the final strategy are
- making connections with the causes of worsening mental health in the population (poverty, low wages, long working hours, the benefits trap, debt, homelessness, worries about climate change, terrorism & educational, financial & social media pressures on young people)
- ensuring access to timely support for all
- how the Board will act give more help to families and carers.
On ageing well there are good key objectives in the draft but in addition she would like to see commitments made towards
- reducing the number of unnecessary admissions to hospital for older people
- closely monitoring the number of re-admissions to hospital for older people
- increased capacity in community services and
- increased service user/patient satisfaction with these services
New technologies are of course supported but the Party’s Equality & Diversity officer insists that an equality-driven strategy should
“never forget those who don’t use computers and acknowledge that at least for a very long time there will always be people who do not and do not wish to access services via IT therefore it should ensure that services are also available and accessible in other ways.”
One of Cllr Craghill’s other main concerns is the confusing definitions of what the strategy means by ‘working with communities‘ and ‘co-production’, which she claims should always be between equal partners. She questions the reasonableness of continually encouraging more and more activity from often voluntary, hard-working people in the community as a way to compensate for lost health service provisions. The needs of all York residents cannot be met like this and she comments that
“we are not at all convinced that so-called ‘resilient communities’ initiatives can ever be a substitute for properly funded public services for those who need them – ‘peers’ cannot provide continuity of care. Creating more active communities with lots of activities and places to meet and be active for people of all ages is definitely a good thing and can contribute to improving health over time – it can’t replace health services.”