This article forms part of the LGA's Re-thinking local think piece series.
From the moment we brought the Council and the CCG even closer together some three years ago, the thrust was very much about people, partnership and place. From day one the question was, looking through the health and wellbeing lens, how do we combine our efforts, capacity and resources to best contribute to and facilitate local economic growth, strengthen community resilience and place the wider determinants of health very much at the heart of our joint agenda?
That ambition, our long standing close working relationship, our commitment to the Council / CCG “Union” and our place based leadership focus have been put to the test during the course of this pandemic.
In North East Lincolnshire, we have been fortunate so far in experiencing a low rate of COVID-19 infections, compared to most other parts of the country. Our geography has certainly helped in that regard but an equally important contributor has been the agility, pace and effectiveness of our Union model.
How do we combine our efforts, capacity and resources to best contribute to and facilitate local economic growth, strengthen community resilience and place the wider determinants of health very much at the heart of our joint agenda?
It is a very powerful thing indeed to see your Medical Director, Communities Director and voluntary sector operate together, from the outset, to establish local shielding arrangements, enabling quick and trusted decisions to be made to support the most vulnerable in our communities. It is equally powerful to see your DASS led care and independence team (placed in the CCG) operate so effectively with care homes to promptly support and engage on issues such as infection control and PPE management.
It is supremely powerful to see the Council, the CCG and a local provider engage swiftly to commission, finance and deliver a refurbished 50 bed step down care facility, in a matter of weeks, to support hospital discharge and help to create COVID hospital bed space.
Public health colleagues and CCG data analysts working closely together to assess and interpret intelligence to inform recommendations to a single leadership team operating in the midst of an emergency has eradicated duplication of effort and supported good governance at a point when immediate decisions have been required to support residents, business and communities. Four straightforward examples of responses framed in integrated working arrangements, strong and credible local relationships and an equally strong and credible focus on place based leadership.
Relationships and our Union operating model grounded in playing to strengths, place first – organisation second; and a single leadership team perspective, overseen by clear lines of accountability into our political and clinical leadership have been central to our drive to support our Borough through this huge challenge. This foundation is equally important to supporting our recovery. Looking ahead, our Primary Care Networks are increasingly coming to the fore and will, over time, assume a significant and influential role in the place agenda, supporting our very bold and challenging drive to close the health inequality gap that has been too wide for too long.
The Place Board (also operating as our Health and Wellbeing Board) brings key sector leaders, partners and the Council’s political leadership together under the auspices of an outcomes framework focused on strengthening and supporting our economy and our communities. That focus and collaboration was never more important than it is now. Whether it’s the digital agenda, a green recovery, the skills agenda or supporting key sector sustainability, the place based conversation is a much richer and beneficial one to have, when that commitment to place is founded on collaboration, trust and partnership at the local level.
Integrated commissioning, provision and a strategic, place based health and wellbeing focus are central to our continued efforts and ambition to support residents, businesses and communities. Our arrangements are by no means perfect but the very fact that we have, for some time now, seen the relationship and the join between local government and the NHS as being central to that endeavour, with a track record to prove the concept (and shape the learning) emboldens us to keep going.