Oldham Labour have set out a vision to improve the health and wellbeing of residents through the launch of the ground-breaking Oldham Health Check.
Councillor Zahid Chauhan, a leading local GP and Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, explained the plans – thought to be the first nationwide to specifically target more vulnerable groups such as the homeless and veterans – to an audience including Jonathan Ashworth MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, local MPs Angela Rayner, Debbie Abrahams and Jim McMahon, residents and health and social care professionals on 13th June.
The initiative aims to build on the existing free national NHS Health Checks, which see GPs inviting people aged 40-74 without a pre-existing condition for checks to identify their risk of developing a heart or circulation problem in the next decade, plus tailored advice and management plans.
Oldham now wants to extend its offer much further through a new Oldham Health Check from April 1,2020.
This will have a targeted approach to our more vulnerable residents and, for the first time, it will not only test for cardio-vascular issues but will also seek to detect and address mental health issues with patients: identifying if they are feeling down, depressed or isolated, and taking action.
Cllr Chauhan said: “The NHS Health Checks were an important milestone in public health nationally – now we want to take that approach even further in Oldham.”
“We know our population well and have pride in our duty to taking a proactive approach in tackling unacceptable health inequalities and deprivation.
“In an increasingly diverse, fragile and disconnected society we must be agile and innovative in how we create a holistic service that better reflects the changing health and social care needs of each part of our borough.
“From 2020 the Oldham Health Check will work with primary care providers targeting local residents most at risk, and delivering better and earlier interventions.
“The addition of mental health as an equal priority is key to this. We know that around 10 per cent of our residents self-identify as being lonely, so the new Oldham Health Check will seek to identify those affected and help them with a community-led approach, including social prescribing.
“This is part of our significant commitment to mental health in Oldham which has seen us invest in a wide range of initiatives to provide lifelong support with partners across the borough.
“Our intention here is clear. We believe that anyone in Oldham – with the right support to combat mental health issues like anxiety, social isolation and depression – can lead the life they want and deserve to live, and we’re determined to do all that we can to make that happen.”
Across Oldham improvement and change in health and social care is being delivered through Oldham Cares: a one system approach bringing together Oldham Council, NHS Oldham CCG, general practitioners and other health and social care providers and the Voluntary, Community, Social, Faith and Enterprise sector with each sharing their skills, experience, talent and resources.
In addition to the launch of the Healthcheck, Jonathan Ashworth MP spoke about tackling health inequalities with a focus on prevention, child health and population health and wellbeing as a guiding mission for Labour. Jim McMahon MP highlighted the importance of GP clusters working well together. Debbie Abrahams MP spoke about the opportunities that devolution creates for health and social care in Greater Manchester, but noted that the system is challenged from the beginning by a £2 billion shortfall in funding. Angela Rayner MP welcomed the new Oldham Healthcheck, emphasising the need for local services to be responsive to the demands of residents, and for education, health and housing provision to be well coordinated to meet complex challenges.
Prior to the Healthcheck launch, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Angela Rayner MP and Cllr Zahid Chauhan visited the Royal Oldham Hospital to see the work they are doing in their Women and Children’s development, neo-natal, maternity and children’s wards.