The Government has made a commitment to help the West Midlands achieve its ground-breaking plans to use system collaboration and technology to improve the health and wellbeing of all its local communities.
The Department of Health pledged its support for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in today’s Green Paper on prevention, which sets out a range of proposals to prevent health problems occurring before they are treated, and to use digital technology to find new and innovative ways of doing this.
Working with a range of local partners including Public Health England, NHS England, the region’s local authorities and police and fire services, the WMCA has developed plans for a Radical Prevention Fund.
Examples of how WMCA is already helping to improve people's health and wellbeing through prevention include Thrive at Work, which supports employers to promote wellbeing in the workplace
The fund will support a range of innovations, building on the region’s 5G test bed status, its Industrial Strategy focus on health and life sciences, and its strong record of bringing agencies together to support better public health.
These could include digital social prescribing, apps to incentivise physical activity and access to services, and social enterprises to involve schools and tackle social isolation.
In the Green Paper, the Government says some of the most exciting opportunities for intelligent prevention are those that can be developed locally, including as part of devolution areas that have a broad focus on economic development alongside a commitment to improve health. The learning from these experiences can be shared more widely to enable other areas to benefit.
The paper states: “In support of this ambition, the government is exploring ways to support a West Midlands Combined Authority Radical Prevention Fund. This will involve a programme of work to explore, test and learn from new opportunities to prevent ill-health using the latest technology – stimulating innovation in ways that can support both health and wealth.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and WMCA portfolio lead for wellbeing, said: “While we have been successful in helping people live longer, on average men born today can expect to live 16 years in poor health and women 19 years. There are also clear health inequalities, with people in deprived areas living shorter lives in poorer health.
“It’s great news that the Government has publicly committed to supporting our Radical Prevention Fund in its Green Paper. This means we can build on the work we are already doing to make it easier for people to make good health choices so they can live happier lives and stay well for longer.”
Cllr Yvonne Davies, leader of Sandwell Council and WMCA portfolio lead for public service reform and social economy added: “I welcome this commitment to supporting prevention in the West Midlands – part of our work across the region to support more inclusive economic growth which enables all of our communities to play a part. The team will now be working hard to turn this commitment into reality over the coming months.”
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England said: “Good health leads to a stronger economy and prevention is better than cure. The West Midlands Combined Authority has great plans to help people to live longer lives in better health, which are very much supported by PHE.”
The Government’s Green Paper, Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s was launched today and the consultation will run for 12 weeks.