Council discusses plans to “transform” Bedford Borough’s health and care services


A refreshed plan to improve health and care in Bedford Borough contains some “really, really, important stuff”, but it needs to be presented creatively to residents so they understand what the changes could mean to them.

A report presented to the Health & Well Being Board last week (9 March) said the Bedford Borough Place-Based Plan sets out a shared ambition for the transformation of health and care services in the borough.

Three priority areas are set out in the Plan; understanding communities, enabling people to live healthy thriving lives, and transforming the local health and care system to deliver the transformation and deliver the outcomes for the borough of Bedford.

Ian Brown, chief officer for public health, said: “We recognise that there is a risk with a plan like this that you attempt to ‘boil the ocean’.

“We’ve taken advice and tried to identify a subset of actions where we think the health and wellbeing board and our partners need to have a focus on those sort of knotty issues that will benefit from a multi-agency approach.

“We’ve then separated out somewhere we feel that our role is to support and help the system to make a difference, and we’ve also identified things that we think we need to keep an eye on, so the things we need to be monitoring and watching over the next few years.

“And there are some quite specific things based upon the data that we see as well.

“So for example, we think it’s important to develop a plan to tackle loneliness and isolation and to make sure that we’ve got policies in place to support people who are frail and elderly to stay independent and remain in their homes.

“And we want to make sure that the needs of children, young people, young families are also represented in the plan, and I hope that we’ve managed to achieve that,” he said.

The council’s chief executive, Laura Church, said: “I wonder if when we’ve concluded some of the actions that you just referred to Ian, whether we could have a resident-focused version of the document that says ‘and this is what difference it will make to you’.

Ian Brown replied that he felt that was a good idea.

Easy to understand guidance

Anne Murray, chief nurse for BLMK CCG, said the plan includes some “really, really, important stuff”, such as routine screening and uptake of health checks.

“But actually, if you were to talk to a member of the population and say, what’s important to you they’re not going to say ‘to get my health check’, they’re going to say something about the outcome of that.

“I think that is really, really important when we do the engagement piece that we talk to people to say ‘what’s important to you’ and relate it back to what we think we’re doing in order to drive some of those outcome conversations.

“And I think that sort of dialogue will be really powerful as we move forward.

“Making that connection around the work we’re doing so that we’re really articulating what we’re achieving in this in a slightly different way going forward.

“Rather than achieving that target, so to speak, I just think that’s really really positive,” she said.

Kate Walker, director of adults’ services, said: “I think that’s a really important point, I think there is a correlation if you’re impacted and you can see a difference between what happened previously and what might happen in the future.

“But for many people, until they need a service they may not know how good or bad a service is and what their experience means and how it feeds in.

“Capturing that journey and being quite creative about it I think would perhaps bring more dividends.

“Because I agree with you Anne, I think there’s been some brilliant work already, but if you ask a person on the street they wouldn’t recognise it unless they experienced it themselves

“So we need to tell a story – this is what something was like before, and what it’s like now,” she said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter