Dr David Smart of Leicester Terrace Healthcare Centre in Northampton explains why Northamptonshire deserves more funding for its services and how smarter spending could help the health service in the future…
I would encourage everyone to write or speak to their local MP as I have done, following on from Councillor Smith’s letter to Rt. Hon Sajid Javid, MP for fair funding for Northamptonshire. Ask how they are supporting fair funding for Northamptonshire, especially health services.
Northamptonshire health services have suffered from inadequate fair funding for many years. It is disappointing this has not being addressed more vigorously by MPs and other leaders.
Northamptonshire’s funding for health services is currently within what is deemed to be an acceptable band of 5% below our fair share. New money from growth of the county population does not come until the following year, therefore for the few counties such as Northamptonshire with 7% rapid growth we remain well below funding needed to address current need. Secondly with a transient population who don’t register with a GP on arrival in the county we don’t receive funding until registration. Getting registered is easy and important to prevent unnecessary hospital attendance, with a possible flu epidemic pending.
In a meeting of system leaders for health and social care, Acting Director for public health described the importance of pre-determinants of illness and the risks of over-dependence on health services. The NHS only makes around 15% difference to health outcomes, whilst 40% difference is made by the choices we, as individuals, make. This especially concerns: cigarette smoking, weight control, exercise, alcohol consumption and stress levels.
As a GP of 27 years, I have noted that when people have low mental well-being, especially a mental disorder, we do not take care of ourselves. This becomes a vicious circle with unhealthy habits worsening physical health, as well as how we feel about ourselves. First For Well-being, a recently developed integrated well-being service, can support people changing behaviors and breaking the vicious cycle. This in turn would not only improve health but reduce future demand on NHS resources. Current funding cuts are sadly decreasing these prevention services. This madness needs to be reversed.
I have promoted the importance of positive mental well-being for many years. If people take more personal action to improve their own mental and physical well-being, not only would they feel and function better, with improved relationships and improved economic fortune, there would also be less demand on the NHS.
May I encourage people to make the ‘Action for Happiness’ pledge a reality in the own lives; “I” I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me”.
This is available on their website http://www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/take-the-action-for-happiness-pledge Taking the pledge would not only improve how we feel, it would also build community resilience and therefore reduce the demand on overstretched NHS services.
I have found the ‘Action For Happiness 10 Keys’ a good personal model to live by and one which I promote to many of my patients. The 10 Keys are listed in the acronym GREAT DREAM. You can learn more about this model on http://www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys-to-happier-living.
The Ten keys are; Giving, Relating, Exercise, Awareness, Trying something new, Direction, Resilience, positive Emotion, Acceptance of self and Meaning.
Addressing any of these Ten Keys has been shown to improve mental well-being, health, employment and relationships. It is my hope that together we can develop a social movement promoting the GREAT DREAM, encouraging the community of Northamptonshire to improve their mental wellbeing.
We are just about to launch a Happy Café at Workbridge Cafe at St Andrews in Northampton. Look out for details of the cafe and come and have a look and a conversation.
May I encourage everyone to take action and promote this social movement.
The first step is to take the ‘Action for Happiness pledge’ “I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me”
Secondly write to your MP Dear Right Honourable..
I would like to understand what action you are taking to address fair funding for Northamptonshire’s health and social care services. Growth in county population is exceeding the funding needed to provide local services especially prevention services which are needed to support early access and recovery from illness. This especially applies to mental health services. We are a long way from the government’s vision of parity of esteem.
Developing a social movement has the potential to improve the well-being of our future generations in Northamptonshire and support local communities to be more inclusive and lastly enable health services to be more sustainable.