Community-led health and Primary Care

The integration of health and social care is top of the agenda for many agencies and organisations in improving health and tackling health inequalities. Primary Care services together with community and voluntary organisations are seeking ways of consolidating good practice to ensure all people have access to health and social services.     
CHEX attended the national conference on the ‘Next Steps to Primary Care’ on 21st January with delegates drawn mainly from Primary Care Services with a few community and third sector organisations also present.  The integration of health and social care focused discussion from all professions and partners in Primary Care on how they work with patients, work with each other and work with the wider community. 
Initial optimism gave way to frustration on:  no impact on health inequalities, increasing demands on health and social care services and disinvestment in Primary Care services. Optimism returned with the attention given to enhanced person-centered care, greater collaboration between public sector and third sector partners, stronger voice for patients and greater engagement with communities, but major concerns over disinvestment prevailed. Recognition was given to the significant challenges of how this will affect the need for ongoing improvement, dealing with multi-morbidity and the integration of services that support people to remain and if able contribute to community activity.  Of greater significance to the community-led sector are the challenges to be faced by community-led health organisation that have worked well with Primary Care Services over the past years.
CHEX has shared many examples of the role and contribution of community-led health in working with Primary Care Services - from Building Healthy Communities in Dumfries and Galloway and the Healthy Living Network in Scottish Borders to Dundee Healthy Living Initiative in Tayside and North Coast Connection in Highland. 
These examples demonstrate the benefits of community organisations coming together with Primary Care health practitioners on agreed health outcomes.  They further evidence the benefits of community members bringing their experience, expertise, contacts, knowledge of local need and assets to health activity that offer early intervention and prevention for better outcomes in areas such as mental health and wellbeing. CHEX is continuing to raise awareness of these examples and approaches with managers and practitioners in Primary Care, e.g. meetings with GPs from the DEEP End Project, promoting the delivery of ‘Health Issues in the Community’ with practitioners in public health networks and embedding community-led health competencies in workforce development. 
If you would like more information on any of this work and/or share examples of your work with Primary Care partners, please contact Janet Muir

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