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Agenda item

Professor Whitty, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health and Social Care 'Reflection of his visits to Hastings on the 21st June 2019 and next steps'


Richard Watson explained that Professor Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, has undertaken a series of visits across the country, the purpose of which was to better understand how research and investment can benefit seaside towns and rural communities.

Professor Whitty’s visit to Hastings was led by Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health for East Sussex. The day involved taking Professor Whitty on a tour of the town. The visit started with background information on health needs in Hastings, demonstrating that the town has some of the poorest health outcomes nationally.

Professor Whitty and his team also visited the launch of the Hastings Opportunity Area Attendance Charter, recognising the wider determinants of health such as educational attainment and housing. This involved some thought provoking presentations from the police and East Sussex County Council.

This was followed by a walking tour taking in Sea View, Citizens Advice and Ore Community Centre. Later in the day Professor Whitty took part in a question and answer session with a panel of experts predominately from the voluntary and community sector.

A number of themes came out of the day. Professor Whitty’s view was that the Department for Health and Social Care will want to support investment in research which demonstrates what works well and what doesn’t work well in terms of improving health outcomes.

Locally there is a need to undertake research that demonstrates which employment, housing and education schemes are having a positive impact on health outcomes.

Richard informed the group that Darrell Gale will be meeting with Professor Whitty and other regional Directors of Public Health in the near future. Meetings will be taking place with the Borough and County Council in October to reflect on what was learnt from the visit and how to move forward.

Richard noted that the visit specifically didn’t involve taking Professor Whitty to General Practice or the Conquest Hospital in order to focus on the wider determinants of health outcomes.

Steve Manwaring commented that Hastings has been the subject of an enormous number of programmes and preventions over recent years, but there hasn’t been any evaluation and learning. Additionally, the closure of the university campus has resulted in a loss of knowledge sharing between the voluntary community and the academic sector.

Steve noted that the visit did highlight some of the problems the voluntary sector faces in undertaking research and developing methodology. It is important that this comes back to the LSP on a regular basis.

In terms of next steps, Richard advised that Chris would be meeting with other public health directors in the UK in the next couple of months to reflect on his findings.

Annie noted that whilst it was positive that Chris’s visit focused on the voluntary and community sector and the activities they are delivering to address health inequalities; it would have been extremely useful if information could have been shared with partners at the earliest opportunity. She added, it is important to treat the sector as equal partners and ensure they are provided with the same level of information as is shared with statutory healthcare providers.

In response to a question regarding the impact of the visits on national funding Richard Watson explained that at this stage it is not clear what the impact will be on Government spending.

Members of the group discussed the potential merger of local CCG’s and how this might impact the voluntary and community sector.

The Chair noted that it would be appropriate for the LSP to look at some of the governance documents for a combined CCG as they emerge in order to shape future health outcomes.



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