The South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) will be working with the voluntary and community sector and the Richmond Group, who are supported by Public Health England, to explore what a practical collaboration between these sectors would look like. The reason for this collaboration is to improve the way in which the health and care system and the voluntary and community sector work together.
In May 2015, the Richmond Group of Charities joined forces with Mind and Public Health England to undertake a project known as ‘Doing the Right Thing’. This was borne out of our collective determination to seize the opportunity of the Five Year Forward View (5YFV) and their concern that the full potential of the voluntary and community sector to contribute to health and care system transformation has yet to be fully understood and tapped.
Earlier this year the Richmond Group launched research findings in the report ‘Untapped Potential’. This presented evidence that charities are not only doing the right thing by their beneficiaries in terms of improved health and well-being but are also improving productivity and efficiency, which the health and care system desperately needs. ‘Untapped Potential’ also raised a challenge: the need for the health and care system to work better with the voluntary and community sector and vice-versa.
The scoping work is at an early phase and the focus is on relationship building and developing an understanding of Somerset and its population, the health and social care system and its pressures, and the work already underway in partnership with the voluntary and community sector. The six-month exploratory stage will run until late March 2017. While no decisions have been made as to the exact shape or scope of this work, the ambition is not to invest in small-scale pilots or experimentation, but rather to invest in new ways of working for entire cohorts of people across the whole of Somerset.
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