Health is viewed by the public as one of the top three factors which contributes to economic success, or Good Growth as we have defined it in our research with Demos. This makes health an economic issue: the public (in the main) wants to be fit enough to work, and to work for longer as the pension age increases with longevity.
Many employers already see it as a priority to maintain the health of their workforce, as illustrated in PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey where CEOs consistently see the health of their workforces as one of their key priorities for investment (second behind skills in our 16th CEO Survey). Employers can benefit from working with their staff on this issue and support them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
For the NHS as an employer, investing in staff wellbeing has also been shown to have a demonstrably positive impact on patient outcomes, creating a virtuous circle of improved productivity, satisfied patients and cost improvement. Creating a culture that supports staff to be resilient, safe and confident in their work is critical to moving from transactional to patient-centred care focused on outcomes.
But health needs to take a broader view of health and care, focusing on prevention and wellbeing and joining with others in the public and private sector to deliver population outcomes. For example, in Birmingham council leaders are looking at taking a holistic ‘campus’ like approach to improving health and wellbeing outcomes across the city, bringing together those who are directly involved in delivering the services that impact on wellbeing from across the private and public sector. This includes housing providers and those leading in research, including the life sciences.
Healthcare industries also have a direct role to play in driving growth. In Leeds this has become a ‘health, wealth and innovation’ agenda, where the private sector, universities, the local authority and health bodies are working together to drive innovation and investment in the health, pharma and life sciences sectors, with the joint objective of promoting good growth and wellbeing across the city region.Integrated approaches such as these require a new level and quality of insight and information. For the public sector, increasingly evidence is going to be required that shows the relationship between inputs, outputs and outcomes. Very little truly integrated data exists across the public sector. Typically, the information we have today largely tells us about quantity – how many people experience a service, or quality - whether people had high levels of satisfaction. This data rarely helps us to know whether investing in housing improves health and wellbeing and helps prevent illness. It doesn’t tell us if access to quality open spaces encourages children to exercise and therefore reduces demand on health services. Integrating information will be crucial to supporting the shift towards prevention, and investing in interventions that deliver the best outcomes for people and good growth for places.