Health Boss Maria Battle Answers Your Questions - Part 1
TheSprout has teamed up with the Cardiff Partnership for a series of interviews with the leaders of Cardiff's main institutions, and this week we interviewed the Chairperson for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB), Maria Battle.
We asked for your questions and we only went and ruddy asked them. So without further ado here's the person in charge of health in Cardiff answering your questions on paying for the NHS, the effect of immigration, and what the CVUHB is doing to support our ageing population.
(Maria provided really detailed to all of your questions, so we've had to break this interview down into a few articles. Keep checking back to find the answer to your question.)
A sustainable NHS (paying for the NHS)
Q1. The unaffordability of the NHS is always being highlighted - What needs to be done differently in the future if we are going to protect it. Do you think people should pay for it?
- I totally agree that one of our major challenges certainly is financial. It has been predicted that the NHS in Wales could face £2.5billion funding gap within 10 years, worth over 40% of current budget. Here in Cardiff & the Vale, we've actually made £113m in savings in the last 3 years, and we need to save at least £30m this financial year. But there are other challenges too:
- How do we best join up care to reduce inequalities in healthcare? In different areas of Cardiff, there's a 10-year difference in life expectancy and there's a 22-year difference in healthy life expectancy.
- How do we manage long term health conditions such as diabetes?
- How do we tackle unhealthy behaviours? (Which I believe is key)
- How do we respond to increasing difficulties in recruiting people?
- All of these challenges mean we've got to do things differently, including helping people to look after themselves. So, what we've been doing is working with the public and with all our staff, and we've created our vision for the future. It's called the Shaping Our Future Wellbeing Strategy, and it will be launched at our Annual General Meeting on Thursday 24 September in the Plaza and Llandough Hospital (refreshments from 5.30pm, start 6pm). We'd love people to come and hear about our plans, share their views and work with us to improve health outcomes for everyone.
We also need to:
- Think more about the longer term impact of change, working better with people and communities in a way that reflects the diversity of communities, looking to prevent problems, supporting people to choose healthy behaviours and encouraging self management of conditions
- Jointly assess population needs for all ages with our partners (local authorities, police, Third Sector) and provide more joined up care, enabling people to maintain or recover their health in or as close to their own home as possible
- Focus on delivering outcomes and experiences that matter to people, making sure that interventions are the minimum which are appropriate
- Base our practice on what has been proved to be effective, standardising as appropriate
- Redesign routine and specialist services, using our workforce differently across a more integrated network of hospital and community care to ensure we can sustain safe and high quality services in the future
Q2. Immigration is in the news a lot at the moment. Is immigration affecting the Welsh NHS? If so, what do you feel could be done about it?
- We are very lucky that many of the people who work here in Cardiff for the NHS come from all over the world, and bring some fantastic skills with them.
- The UK Government has been reviewing the visa requirements, which means that it's more difficult for us to recruit. For example, there are only a small number of healthcare posts on this List which includes doctors who work in Emergency Units, mental health and with children. There are no nursing posts on this shortage occupation list. This gives us a problem as we have predicted that we need to recruit from overseas to have the number of nurses we require to deliver safe, high quality services. So we are working with Health Boards across Wales to influence the UK review to get nursing on the shortage occupation list.
- Further tightening of UK Government rules is affecting our ability to recruit to all clinical professions from outside the European Union.
- It has been heartbreaking to see the humanitarian crisis affecting refugees across Europe, from the Middle East and North Africa, in the past couple of weeks. Cardiff is one of the 7 screening centres in the UK, so up to now we've had 50 - 200 asylum seekers come to Cardiff per month, and we are really proud of the service we provide. We screen them for public health, so we look for TB, HIV and other infectious diseases, and then we provide GP and secondary healthcare. Around 40% of people who come to Cardiff stay. In light of the humanitarian crisis, I have been working with the Cardiff and Vale local authorities as well as the faith communities (including the Muslim community and Saleem Kadwai, who's the Head of the Muslim Council of Wales); the Jewish community; and the Christian community), because so many people are coming forward with clothing and shelter - which is wonderful - but we need to work together to coordinate, communicate and get that help and open more doors to welcome refugees into Cardiff.
- Welsh Government has provided additional investment to support this growth in this service. This has provided us with the opportunity to review the service to ensure it is delivering the most efficient and effective care and is sustainable for the future
Q3. How do you suggest we best support our ageing population?
- First and foremeost, we need to listen to them - what do our older people want? I go out and speak to a lot of older (and younger) people's groups and they want to remain independent for as long as possible, and they want to be able to access the help they need when they need it. As a society we really need to think about how we tap into the experience and skills that older people have, developing more inter-generational programmes where, for example, older people can teach younger people to read, or be the 'grandparent' to a young family. The impact on both the older person and the children is great, as it empowers and enables them for older people to know what's there and what they can go to.
- One project with AgeCymru establishes visits with older people's homes to connect what's out there to the older people, so that lessens the social isolation. I've spoken with older people who stick to walking 5 flights of stairs every day and do their allotment to keep in good health, instead of sitting watching the television all day. Helping to create activities and sharing the information about using the older generation's experience and wisdom helps keep them stimulated, which helps keep their mental health on track. (There is some evidence that shows that older people in a faith community find it easier to stay healthy because it's a spiritual, mental, emotional and community-based activity.) Preventing older people from feeling isolated, depressed or lonely is key. Helplines like Silverline can help the older generation stay healthy.
Part 2 will be up soon! Keep checking back to see what the answer was to your question...
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