18 Jul 2023

Senior councillors in Leeds to discuss health and wellbeing strategy refresh to 2030

Health Mental health

A refresh of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy focused on improving health outcomes and tackling inequalities in the city will be discussed by senior councillors next week.

The meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board at Civic Hall on Wednesday 26 July will consider the report, which updates the previous strategy from 2016-21 and will provide the framework for improving health and wellbeing in the city up to 2030.

The refreshed strategy reinforces the aspiration for Leeds to be a healthy and caring city for all ages, with a focus on helping people who are the poorest improve their health the fastest. By focusing on the root causes of poor health, such as housing, employment opportunities, education and the environment, and prioritising tackling inequalities in these areas, the strategy aims to prevent ill-health by supporting people to build resilience, and live happier, healthier lives.

The strategy also prioritises the integration of health and care services, a key intervention that will enable partners to better address some of the challenges local people currently face when accessing support at hospitals, GPs, dentists and other healthcare settings.

It has been developed and will be overseen by the Leeds health and wellbeing board, made up of senior representatives from organisations including Leeds City Council, the NHS, the community sector and Healthwatch, which represents views of the public. Work had begun previously on the refresh before it was put on hold while the city responded to the significant and unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The refreshed strategy is underpinned by the importance and continued development of the partnership approach to improving health in the city, particularly the value and strength of the hundreds of community sector organisations that work hard to support the most vulnerable people in the city. It builds on work carried out in recent years and especially across all communities in response to the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis.

In all areas the strategy takes a people-first approach and is based on the reality of people’s lived experiences. There is a greater emphasis on supporting carers, creating safer and sustainable communities, and there is also an increased focus on the importance of creating a mentally healthy city for all. The strategy also promotes stronger partnerships between the health and housing sectors and has a strong emphasis on health at work and the importance of good secure employment as a huge influence on people’s health.

The strategy will play an essential role in achieving the Leeds Best City Ambition, which brings together health and wellbeing partners with those working on inclusive growth and zero carbon, to collectively tackle poverty and improve quality of life for everyone in Leeds.

The key priorities of the strategy have been greatly guided by the discussions in the Big Leeds Chat in 2021, which saw 43 conversations take place across the city, hearing people’s experiences of all ages around health and wellbeing and what matters most to them. This feedback has reinforced the need for people to be at the centre of health and care decision-making, encouraging greater engagement and ensuring the voices of those living with inequalities are better heard.

To get direct insight into the needs of marginalised communities, the Leeds health and wellbeing board has developed an allyship programme which connects board members with key third sector organisations in the city. This engagement will remain a key element in ensuring the priorities of all communities guide the delivery of the strategy.

The refreshed strategy identifies the following 12 priority areas of work for Leeds:

  • People have the best start and age well in a Child Friendly and Age Friendly City
  • Strong, engaged and well-connected communities
  • Improving housing for better health and wellbeing
  • Safe, sustainable places that protect and promote health and wellbeing
  • A city where everybody can be more active, more often
  • A strong economy with good local jobs for all
  • Maximise benefits of world leading research, innovation and technology
  • Promoting prevention and improving outcomes through integrated health and care
  • An inclusive, valued and well-trained workforce
  • Support carers and enable people to maintain independent lives
  • The best care, in the right place, at the right time
  • A mentally healthy city for everyone

Commenting on the strategy refresh, Leeds City Council executive member for health partnerships and chair of the Leeds health and wellbeing board Councillor Fiona Venner said:

“I very much welcome this refresh of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy to guide us through to 2030, rooted in the reality of people’s lived experiences such as the everyday challenges of accessing doctors and dental care, and putting people at the heart of everything we do.

“The value of partnership working across all sectors and communities in Leeds was essential in our response to the pandemic and continues to be vital in the current cost of living crisis, and that approach must continue to be strengthened in the coming years. In keeping with our Best City Ambition, we are committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and improving quality of life for everyone in Leeds. Improving health outcomes, and ensuring Leeds is a healthy and caring city for all, is an essential part of that.”

Jim Barwick, Chief Executive, Leeds GP Confederation, and member of the Leeds health and wellbeing board, said:

“We know how difficult it is for people right now, and we have heard first-hand the challenges that people are facing in accessing health and care services. All health and care providers in the city have been working hard to increase appointments, so that people can access the support they need. For example, in primary care there are now on average an extra 4,000 appointments available per day than before the pandemic.

“We know there is more we can do to improve access and experiences of care. Through the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy, partners are committed to integrating health and care services, enabling us to better share the excellent skills, expertise, and resources to improve outcomes for people when they access our services.

“We want people to be confident that when they do need access to health and care, they will get the service they deserve, and in a health and care setting that is best for them. This is why I am happy to endorse this new strategy which prioritises health and care integration, and will enable people to get the best care, in the right place, at the right time.”

Corrina Lawrence, Chief Executive of Feel Good Factor, and third sector representative on the Leeds health and wellbeing board said:

“The past few years have been extremely challenging for everybody, and we know that some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Leeds are a higher risk of living with poor physical and mental health. Not only is that unfair for them, but it also means they are less likely to be in full-time work, which means they have less spending power, affecting the economy, and putting them at risk of other issues such as being unable to heat their homes, or not being able to access quality food. This in turn means they are more likely to rely on health and care services. It is a vicious circle that needs to be broken.

“The good news is that we can change this, and the hundreds of dedicated community sector organisations in Leeds will continue to play a leading role in improving people’s lives and changing their outcomes. It is fantastic to see the community sector recognised in the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy for the imperative role they play, and I am glad to be able to endorse it on behalf of the sector.”

The refreshed strategy will be considered by the Leeds health and wellbeing board at its meeting at Civic Hall on Thursday (20 July) before being discussed next week by the executive board.

To see the strategy and supporting report, visit Council and democracy (leeds.gov.uk) (agenda item 9).


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