We know our health service needs to change. The demographic profile and health needs of the UK population are rapidly changing and a broader view of integrated health and social care is urgently required.
The Five Year Forward View has given us a vision of what services will look like in England. When it was first published, I was advised that there were some primary care providers that had already embraced radical new ways of working.
I was delighted therefore to have the opportunity to visit the Bromley-By-Bow Centre, along with George Plumptre, the chief executive of the National Gardens Scheme, to see at first hand a very different approach to meeting the health needs of the local community.
I arrived 30 minutes early and, being a community nurse, took the chance to walk around the area to get a sense of the neighbourhood – its housing, schools, nurseries, cafés, shops, services, transport, parks and local businesses.
I walked past hundreds of flats in low and high rise blocks, boarded up small shops, a derelict church and no green spaces at all between them.
It gave me a real understanding of the context of the development of the centre, as I entered through the wonderful archway adorned by a wisteria in full bloom.
We met with Sir Sam Everington – GP and chair of Tower Hamlets CCG and adviser on new models of care to NHS England. Sam was an inspiration to speak with and he is a living example of how teams of professionals can work together to change our whole approach to improving health outcomes, through partnering with the local community.
The centre includes a tree-lined public park which has been landscaped to meet the needs of children and older people, a play area, an allotment and a garden. There is a vegetarian café for the community, a pottery and several rooms for members of the community to engage with learning events and skills development. I almost forgot to mention there are consulting rooms too for the multidisciplinary team, in addition to the most welcoming atmosphere I have ever experienced.
The improved health outcomes for the community are outstanding. If this is the vision for healthcare in England, we have a very bright future.