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Exploring the role of health in economic and inclusive growth

Posted: 19th December 2019

Senior leaders from the NHS, local authorities, education and industry met last week to explore the role of health in driving economic and inclusive growth in the Yorkshire and Humber Region.

The YHealth for Growth conference was hosted by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), NHS Confederation and Yorkshire Universities and held at Cloth Hall Court, Leeds.

Keynote speakers included:

  • Tom Riordan, Chief Executive, Leeds City Council
  • Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University and Chair of Yorkshire Universities
  • Rob Webster, Chief Executive, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lead, West Yorkshire & Harrogate Integrated Care System
  • Niall Dickson CBE, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation
  • Henri Murison, Director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership

Key themes that emerged during the event included:

  • The region’s serious health challenges – for example Yorkshire and Humber has the third lowest life expectancy in England for men and women
  • The impact of health inequalities both on population health and the region’s economy
  • The need to ensure we have the workforce we need for the future
  • The need for a constructive dialogue about the benefits that can be delivered through collaborative working between the NHS and industry

Richard Stubbs, Chief Executive Officer at Yorkshire & Humber AHSN commented: “We all know that ‘health means wealth means health’ and that the Yorkshire and Humber region does not punch its weight in terms of positive health outcomes and economic output.

“For example, there’s a £4 gap in productivity per hour per person between the north and south. If this gap was closed, it would deliver a £13.2bn increase in the UK’s Gross Value Added (GVA) as well as driving up health outcomes for our citizens.

“We also know that this region has a huge range of assets and anchor institutions in terms of economic geographies, research base, infrastructure and industry potential.

“Our challenge is to look at how leaders in health and care, executives from local authorities, business and further and higher education, can work together to develop practical approaches and help secure a deeper commitment and collaboration to support a sustainable and inclusive economic growth agenda.”

Tom Riordan talked about the importance of place and health at the heart of economic development.

He said: “There’s some great work being done across the region and it’s important that this story is told. For example, working together has enabled us to reverse levels of child obesity in Leeds, with some of the biggest differences being delivered in some of the poorest parts of the city.

“We’ve also set up the Leeds Academic Health Partnership, which is bringing the NHS and academia together in a really compelling way.

“Leeds University’s Nexus research centre is having an impact in the field of personalised medicine with breakthroughs been made in the care and treatment of people with cancer, which are already starting to save lives.”

Professor Chris Husbands gave an insight into the role of universities and research in driving inclusive growth and opportunities in the region.

He said: “There is a positive spiral between jobs and health and wealth. For example, live expectancy in some areas of Sheffield is 10 years lower than in others just four miles away. We need to build on a shift from treating illness to prevention and step away from designing movement out of every-day life.

“The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre is leading world class research and innovation into how physical activity can help prevent chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

Rob Webster outlined how the social and economic impact of Integrated Care Systems could be maximised.

He said: “Around 80 per cent of the factors that impact on people’s health are nothing to do with healthcare – they involve wider issues like having somewhere to live, someone to love and something to do. That means our industrial strategies matter to people’s lives. In the same way, the role of the NHS in the economy can bring real growth and in turn impact upon health.

“We need to understand that the £5.5bn we spend on health and care in West Yorkshire & Harrogate is an investment in people’s lives and futures. We are working collaboratively to bring about real change so we can reduce health inequalities, improve quality of life and improve healthy life expectancy. The aim is to reduce the life expectancy gap between the worst off 10% and wider population by 5% by 2024. This importantly includes tackling the unjust differences we know exist for people with learning disabilities.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in to make better connections and use our unique assets as an economy to improve health and wellbeing and contribute to inclusive economic growth.  In particular we will collaborate on key themes around local employment, including putting people’s lives at the centre of our ambitions for growth and wellbeing; managing the risks associated with climate change as we move to a greener economy; ensuring good work drives good health, and good health enables good work; and ensuring that health and care services benefit from innovation offered by local universities and health-tech companies.”

Delegates were then invited to take part in two panel sessions.

The first, chaired by Niall Dickson, explored the role of health in economic and inclusive growth.

He commented: “The NHS can’t solve everything by itself and should not sit as an island.

“People are becoming more aware that there needs to be  fundamental changes within health care, and we need to recognise that if we continue to spread doom, it will not inspire staff – we need to look at mutual support. There needs to be a balance between resourcing of services and inspiring staff.”

He praised the Yorkshire and Humber region for moving further than other areas but added that, like other places, the NHS was working with a workforce model that was not suitable for today.

The second panel session was led by Richard Stubbs and looked at the issues around building effective cross-sector partnerships with industry. Discussions focused on the need for close partnership working between the NHS, academia and industry.

Niall commented: “We need to get across some complex points rather than unfortunate headlines about ‘privatisation’. Unless we embrace technology and invest more in information technology we will not progress. Building a new relationship with industry can be a ‘win, win’ for all concerned.”

Richard concluded the panel by calling for more training for NHS managers and clinicians on understanding the benefits of working with industry and how to work effectively together.

Panellists were:

  • Kathryn Lavery, Chair, Yorkshire Ambulance Service
  • Rosalind Way, Heald of Strategic Partnerships, Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd
  • Prof Shirley Congdon, Vice Chancellor, University of Bradford
  • Collette Goldrick, Director, NHS Engagement, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
  • Prof Sean Duffy, Programme Clinical Director and Alliance Lead, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance and Strategic Clinical Lead, Leeds Cancer Programme
  • Chris Gray, Regional Healthcare Manager, AstraZeneca
  • Dr Rani Khatib, Consultant Pharmacist, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

During the afternoon delegates participated in three interactive workshops to explore how to build sustainable place-based working in critical areas of attracting research and development, building an inclusive economy and the role of anchor institutions

The YHealth for Growth conference ended with a keynote by Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Presentation slides from the YHealth for Growth conference can be downloaded here

Anchor Institution Workshop slides are available here

The conference programme can be viewed here