The NHS Long Term Plan makes it quite clear that the NHS must get serious about prevention.
Working with our local communities to prevent ill-health in the first place, is equally as important to us as treating people when they do become unwell.
Our aim is to reduce the unacceptable gaps in life expectancy which exist for people living in different parts of South Tyneside and Sunderland.
We know there are many determinants of health such as wealth, employment and housing and, we believe, by working together with local partners including schools, employers and the voluntary sector, the NHS can make a bigger impact to directly influence positive change.
Getting prevention right within South Tyneside and Sunderland will be essential to improve health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and provide a solid foundation to reduce wholly preventable illness and avoidable use of (and pressure on) the NHS.
Whilst we have made significant strides to reduce smoking rates over the past ten years and, consequently, reduce premature deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease, we still have a long way to go in South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Addressing tobacco dependence is a key area for improvement and we recognise that better integration is required within the NHS, as well as with the broader health and care system.
Supporting staff to make ‘every contact count’
Across the NHS in South Tyneside and Sunderland we employ thousands of people and we want to support each and every colleague to be healthy and well.
It is important that all NHS staff, regardless of their role or area or work, lead by example for patients and are supported to lead healthy lifestyles.
We also want to empower all NHS staff, clinical and non-clinical, with the knowledge, skills and confidence to talk about health and wellbeing with their patients during every single contact, regardless of the reason for their visit.
Regular, daily conversations with patients about how to stop smoking, drink less alcohol, improve levels of physical activity and eat well, should become the norm for every NHS employee.
Supporting positive behaviour change
Our vision is to create community healthcare services which join-up clinical care with other interventions to support positive behaviour change, encourage more people to look after both their physical and mental health and feel more connected in their local communities.
Too often, patients’ medical needs are met in isolation from any other issues which are impacting on their health and wellbeing. In future, we would like local people, their carers and healthcare professionals to have quick and easy access to a network of approaches to help increase patient activation and overall wellbeing.
Increasing patient activation and supporting people to stay well
‘Patient activation’ describes the knowledge, skills and confidence a person has in managing their own health and care.
Evidence shows that when people are supported to become more activated in looking after themselves, they benefit from better health outcomes, have improved experiences of care and fewer unplanned hospital admissions.
We want to focus more efforts on increasing patient activation by using technology to give people in South Tyneside and Sunderland more control over their health so they can effectively and confidently practice good self-care to stay healthy and well.
In turn, we expect this will reduce demand on primary care services and free up GP time to care for patients who have more complex needs.