Sue Symington smiling and the text 'As I see it - the latest blog from Sue Symington'

Providing the best possible care as the worst of winter approaches

Despite the winter not yet fully biting, we the NHS and our partner organisations already feel the chill of winter, with pressures being felt in all corners of our geography. This chill is not the product of a lack of effort or compassion for patient and service user care, more the  conflation of multiple factors, some within and some out-with our control.

The Integrated Care System (ICS) board will be paying great attention tomorrow (9 November) when it meets, to the many efforts and actions our ICS is committing to in order to provide the best possible care for our patients and service users as winter approaches.

One of the ways we can protect services, and so serve our population better, is to ensure that our communication with the public – those we serve – are helpful and clear. The Choose Well communication below aims to help patients and service users to access the right service, at the right time. We will be sharing this message widely across the winter months.

Unwell? Choose Well - image summarising what people should do if they feel unwell

Health and well-being are ‘everybody’s business’

An Integrated Care System must balance the ‘here-and-now’ challenges of today, with its strategic purposes, which are almost never urgent, but are always important. These important objectives focus on recognising that the health of our population is ‘everybody’s business‘.

Over recent weeks I have met with business leaders in the Humber and in Scarborough, GPs determined to improve and develop health services across York; clinicians seeking to integrate digital improvements into their daily practice in Scarborough; police officers that recognise the relationship between health and the criminal justice system in North East Lincolnshire and want to work more closely with health care providers; a team of voluntary sector leaders in Bridlington serving our population in the East Riding; and in North Lincolnshire I had the opportunity to see how council leisure services are being used creatively to contribute to the health and wellbeing of their local population.

What all these interactions have in common, is an understanding that health and wellbeing really is ‘everybody’s business’,  and a recognition that we need to work differently, creatively and compassionately to continually improve the health of the population we serve.

And finally, on the topic of creativity and compassion, I spent an extraordinary afternoon with leaders at Inspire, a mental health inpatient unit for young people from Hull, the East Riding and North and North-East Lincolnshire, run by Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust. My grateful thanks to them for their tireless work and commitment – and their great patience in answering my many questions!

Sue Symington

Chair of the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and Chair of the Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Partnership