An independent report, commissioned by the Mayor James Palmer, argues that post-Covid, the area’s health and care system must change to provide a more joined-up, local system that invests in prevention and brings services closer to the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The report has been 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.
To achieve better long-term health, the report recommends 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:
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. The Authority agreed the establishment of an independent Public Service Reform and Innovation Commission as part of the Combined Authority’s devolution deal commitment signed between Government and members of the Combined Authority in June 2017.
Whilst the Combined Authority itself has no role in health across the region, the devolution deal committed it to transforming public service delivery. The members of the Authority decided to make an initial focus on health and social care. The Government and the Combined Authority committed to working with the relevant central and local statutory and non-statutory sector partners to explore innovative and integrated approaches to designing sustainable public services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with a focus on prevention and early help. The Government and the Combined Authority also undertook to focus on levelling up outcomes in areas of deprivation, such as parts of Fenland, Cambridge, Huntingdon and Peterborough, to improve the quality of life for local residents. 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.
James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 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. It offers a comprehensive way forward for us to review. 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 and allowed us to commission this valuable work. The Combined Authority is considering its response to the report on health and care integration in the light of developing circumstances. Members of the Authority 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.”
Quote from Chair of the Commission, Dr Andy Wood OBE DL,
“Our focus as Independent Commissioners has been on how the Combined Authority and all its partners and stakeholders might best contribute to improving health and wellbeing across the entire population that it exists to serve – our hope is that this report will ensure that we put health at the heart of every decision.”