This week’s leadership message comes from our Partnership Director Ian Holmes and Tony Jamieson, Director of Transformation for Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network.

As published on the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership website on 29 May 2020

Hello, our names are Ian and Tony,

The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is founded on the principle of collaboration.  Working together, across health and care partners, with local communities gives us the best chance of improving health and care for everyone.  This collaboration stretches beyond health and care organisations.  Yorkshire benefits from a vibrant university sector, which works closely in partnership through groups, such as Yorkshire Universities.  Higher education is a huge asset to our region and it can be a critical factor in the West Yorkshire response to Covid-19.

Universities contribute £2.9bn each year to the region’s economy, supporting 56,000 jobs. They attract a large and diverse student population from over 120 countries, training 60,000 of the region’s bright young minds and producing 64,000 highly skilled graduates every year [1]. There is a strong culture of collaboration between universities, exemplified by the Applied Research Collaborative, led by Professor John Wright from the University of Bradford, and the Patient Safety Translational Research Centre led by Professor Rebecca Lawton at the University of Leeds.

The region’s ability to attract investment into health and wellbeing research is evident with institutions like the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, led by Sheffield Hallam University, which is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move. The region’s expertise in learning from data is second to none through the work of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, York Health Economics Consortium and the School of Health and Related Research’s contributions to public health data and health economics.

Capitalising on the strengths of our university sector in Yorkshire is more important than ever as we address complex societal and environmental challenges, and move towards a world that is living with Covid-19 and, most likely, into a significant recession. We are working to strengthen this partnership and have agreed some priority areas for collaboration with universities:

Staffing and skills

The health and care sector and higher education have a longstanding and deeply-embedded partnership on staff education, employability and training.  Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an extraordinary mobilisation of people within education into different health and care roles.  This has demonstrated the potential for greater flexibility in the way health care staff and services can adapt and respond to changing circumstances.

We already have established mechanisms to work collaboratively on workforce issues, in line with Partnership’s like ours (also known as Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) taking on greater leadership responsibilities for workforce planning, we believe there is an opportunity to work together to strengthen our knowledge and understanding of future workforce demand and skills gaps, and how we can attract people from local communities into health and care roles.  

The economy and the health and care system are linked.  Healthy people contribute to a stronger economy, and a strong economy. Good work for all can improve health and wellbeing. This is a crucial priority for Yorkshire where economic, social and health inequalities are structural barriers to achieving long-term prosperity for more people and places in the region.

As we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be even more important to rebuild and shape our local economy to meet the needs of all people for good work and good health.  The health and care sector as employers will be a critical part of this.

A West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board has recently been established, and all local partners will be considering the best ways to both protect and build the economy whilst being conversant of the importance of good health and the health and care economy. The priorities include personal protective equipment (PPE), business development, employment and skills and the many financial challenges outlined. These immediate priorities will also be linked into the existing plans and are rooted in a flexible and iterative response and promotion of innovation and greater use of intelligence.

Research and Innovation

Data analysis and modelling will be essential to help us identify the medium and long-term health impacts of the pandemic.  We know that Covid-19 seems to impact some groups of people more severely than others; we also know that the longer term impact of social distancing and the wider economic downturn resulting from the pandemic will impact in different ways too. 

The region has strong research assets supporting its response to the crisis. However, there is a need to better connect these to create something more impactful that can support rapid analysis of the key issues and evidence-based decision making.  We believe that closer working between our NHS, public health and university research and analytical capacity will help fulfill this need. 

Innovation and the economy go hand in hand in the work of Y&H AHSN, and creating a more innovative regional economy will be instrumental to recovering from the consequences of the pandemic and lockdown. For example, important work has been taking place to support the growth of small to medium size MedTech enterprises in the Propel@YH programme. We have shown what is possible with the adoption of AttendAnywhere to transform out-patient appointments and embracing artificial intelligence such as Pinpoint to streamline the backlog of cancer diagnostics. The region’s digital infrastructure, such as the £10m Northern Pathology Imaging Co-operative and Yorkshire & Humber Care Record £4m contract for population health management will be powerful enablers of transformation through innovation. Data driven, rapid research focusing on public health interventions on mental health, domestic violence and the wider determinants of health will give us the confidence to scale up the most effective projects to these complex issues.

The near future for West Yorkshire and Harrogate is a digitally enabled, data driven, caring system that optimises the opportunities presented by innovation and research. Together, working with universities in the region we can tackle the widening health inequalities magnified by coronavirus by embracing innovation and sustaining a vibrant economy.

Have a good and safe weekend,
Ian and Tony “

[1] Stats from accessed 22/05/2020

Thank you to Yorkshire Universities for use of photos on this blog and on social media.

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