The Portfolio Holder introduced the report which highlighted some of the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Partnership’s activity during 2019/20 to improve the health and wellbeing of the Borough’s residents. He outlined some of the highlights, including Ashford’s smoking rate being more than halved in just one year which was a phenomenal achievement. There continued to be significant challenges, both now and in to the future, however these were recognised and the report showed the excellent work that was already happening and being driven forward by the Partnership. He wanted to recognise the work of Officers, Cabinet colleagues and partners for driving this agenda forward.
The Leader said the report was a positive one and it was worth dwelling on the reduction in smoking from 21.5% of adults in the Borough to 10.1%. Ultimately this was saving lives. In addition it was worth emphasising the One You Shop in Ashford Town Centre - a one of a kind facility which had already expanded once and had been so successful in dealing with a number of issues, including the aforementioned smoking reduction. The Council would also be investigating the possibilities of asking the One You Shop to assist where elderly residents were currently having problems accessing their GP practices remotely.
The Deputy Leader said that the point on digital access for consultations was well made. The NHS, through both GPs and the hospitals, were clearly going to make more use of electronic and remote consultations/appointments and whilst in his view this was the way forward and there were huge advantages to this in terms of efficiencies, there would also be a role for the One You Shop and others to help people understand those facilities.
A Member asked that, given the success of One You in the Town Centre, would it be desirable to roll similar facilities out to other areas of the town, perhaps based in existing Community Centres. Another Member suggested that perhaps some of the larger GP surgeries around the Borough could sub-contract a One You type service. The Leader responded that whilst he understood the sentiment, these were expensive facilities and the Council had to work in tandem with health professionals from the NHS and others and focus on its own recovery. Ashford already had the only facility of this type in the country and it involved an enormous amount of work, resources and commitment, so it may be unrealistic to expect more in other locations around the Borough. Caution also had to be guarded against taking on too many responsibilities for health issues as the Borough Council. They could work with, facilitate and signpost, but they could not take on the roles and responsibilities of GP surgeries and the Health Authority in general. A Member said there were a number of people who were interested in getting the message of One You out across the Borough and it need not be an expensive exercise. It would be more about getting the parties together to devise a way of using existing resources and facilities. The Portfolio Holder reassured Members that this was a goal of the Partnership going forward.
That (i) the achievements made by the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Partnership in 2019/20 be noted.
(ii) the changing sub-regional and regional health and wellbeing arrangements be noted.
(iii) the work being undertaken by the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Partnership as part of the Council’s Recovery Plan be noted.