The wider context and opportunities of integration
Inclusive Economic Growth
Integrated care relates not just to integration within the health sector, but also reaching out further to the integration of health and care to other key sectors.
We recognise the importance of the link between good health and a strong economy – the two are intrinsically connected and mutually dependant on each other.
Income, skills and employment levels all affect people’s ability to live healthily. Similarly, high levels of health and wellbeing create a strong, diverse and reliable workforce for our businesses and employers.
Whilst Coventry & Warwickshire enjoy both strong economic performance and comparatively strong levels of health and wellbeing, we know there is work to do with particular communities, groups and business sectors – this is a key focus for our shared approach to Levelling Up across the sub-region and our commitment to reduce disparities and increase opportunities.
Focusing on inclusive economic growth within an Integrated Care Strategy allows us to explore issues of connectivity, access, and equality, as well as providing a health lens to investment, infrastructure, sustainability which enables economic growth and improved health and wellbeing.
We are also aware of our own collective role on the local economy. Our Coventry and Warwickshire Anchor Alliance seeks to harness the role of local councils, health bodies and our universities as key local employers and contributors to the local economy.
The burning platform of the cost-of-living pressures provides a catalyst for long needed change. We now have an important opportunity to bring together the connected agendas of economy and health as inclusive growth within our developing Coventry and Warwickshire Economic Strategy.
Addressing environmental factors and climate change
“Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity” (WHO)
We cannot consider health and care across our system without giving due attention to the environment and climate crisis. Extreme temperatures and air pollution are just some of the ways in which climate change is already starting to impact upon the health of our population; the severity and range of ways health and wellbeing will be impacted is only going to increase and concerted action is required at local, national and global levels. Sadly, we know that the impacts of climate change will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in society, thus worsening the health inequalities that we are trying to address; those people living in deprived areas are more likely to experience poor air quality and individuals with underlying health conditions are more severely affected by extreme temperatures.
Not only do we have to be prepared as a system to deal with the consequences of climate change and take steps to mitigate, but we must also take responsibility as a system to reduce our overall contribution to the climate crisis, including importantly the impact of healthcare. Coventry and Warwickshire ICS Green Plan seeks to embed sustainability and low carbon practice in the way that the system delivers healthcare services. The Green Plan allows our ICS to set out our current position in addition to our goals for the next three years, with a view to helping the NHS to become the first health service in the world with net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A wide range of other action is being taken across the system, including through the development of a range of strategies: WM2041 5 Year Plan 2021-2026- West Midlands Combined Authority’s plan on carbon emission reduction, Coventry Climate Change Strategy and Taking Action on Climate Change - Warwick District Council’s plan to achieve Net Zero.
As described by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), there are a number of so-called ‘win-win’ opportunities, whereby we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst also addressing major public health challenges, focusing on prevention and the wider determinants. Good examples include:
- an increase in active travel by foot or bike will reduce green-house gas emissions and air pollution from private vehicles
- making homes more energy efficient will help tackle fuel poverty and the associated negative impacts on health.
Prioritising the wider determinants of health, including housing quality, will not only have an impact on climate change, but also a positive impact on an individual’s immediate living environment, including for example damp and mould, that can be very damaging to health and wellbeing.
By all partners across the system committing to being green and sustainability led, we can not only improve the health and wellbeing of our local population, but also join the national and global effort to tackle the climate crisis.