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We must get our priorities right – says health leader
A WATCHDOG leader has written to health bosses to say they have got some of their priorities wrong for improving healthcare in Worcestershire.
Leaders of the Worcestershire health and well-being board agreed four priorities for the future of healthcare but the county watchdog believes other areas are more important in people’s lives.
The priorities, set by the board as part of a health strategy for 2012-15, are older people and the management of long-term conditions, mental health and well-being, obesity and alcohol.
The board helps make sure cash and policies across the NHS and county council services improve people’s health in these key areas.
Councillor Andy Roberts , chairman of the health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC), the county’s health watchdog, wrote to Coun Marcus Hart, chairman of the board, saying the board were supportive of a strategy to improve the county’s health but also had concerns.
Leaders from the board met members of HOSC in June regarding a draft of the strategy and Coun Roberts’ letter is a summary of the views of the committee’s members.
He said: “Members were concerned that it was not clear how the health priorities for Worcestershire had been determined. “There were a number of issues that members felt should take higher priority in the strategy. “There was little mention in the strategy of housing yet this was a major component affecting people’s lives. “It is critical that every child be given the best possible start in life, yet women and children are not identified as one of the priorities.
“It is disappointing that prevention does not feature more strongly in the strategy as a priority as there are issues which could be addressed, such as poor quality housing, excess winter deaths, homeless figures and deprivation.”
Coun Roberts also said acute hospital services should feature as a priority given the joint services review which is under way and could involve changes to hospital services, including the possible centralisation of A&E and maternity services at a single hospital site.
The health and well-being board is a forum where local leaders discuss how to improve the health of people in Worcestershire. The board, now in ‘shadow’ form, is expected to take over its formal statutory responsibilities in April next year.
The board is due to meet today at 2pm in County Hall in Worcester. Chairman Marcus Hart was unavailable for comment.