We all want people in Surrey to live in good health for as long as possible throughout their lives. And that they get the right help, when and where they need it.
Surrey is already one of the healthiest places to live in England, with better cancer survival rates and people less likely to have a stroke or heart attack than many other areas. Our services also perform well with the majority of GP practices and hospitals rated good or outstanding.
However, there are big differences between what most of us experience and what some of us can expect, with a 12 year gap in life expectancy depending on where you live. We know that if a child starts school with a health inequality – such as from obesity or living with poor air quality – it’s difficult to make up that gap, and they’re more likely to have poor physical and mental health as they get older. And because most people in Surrey are living longer that also means more people living with ill health and conditions such as dementia, with social isolation and loneliness increasing.
In Surrey Heartlands we are focussing on the first thousand days of every child’s life so we can make a difference to our future generations; and on organising ourselves differently so people can continue to live well at every stage of their lives.
Take our example family
83 year old Mary has recently been admitted to hospital following a fall. She lives alone, has mild dementia and has been feeling quite isolated. She also suffers from Type II diabetes. The longer Mary stays in hospital, the more likely she will be to deteriorate. But to get home she needs a package of care that includes nursing, help with her diabetes and support to enable her to look after herself and remain independent.
As a partnership, we are supporting teams of doctors, nurses, care workers and other professionals to work together so people like Mary get home from hospital when they no longer need to be there, with one person coordinating everything she and her family need. Shared medical records means staff can see Mary’s history quickly so she doesn’t have to tell her story over and over again. And with the right links, through our partnerships with councils and voluntary groups, the team can put Mary in touch with social groups for company, helping her to live independently at home for longer.
Mary’s son John, in his mid-50s, works long hours in London with little time to think about his health. Through a new community detection programme, using a simple device to measure his pulse rate, he was recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm and major cause of stroke. Now John is being treated with a drug that prevents his blood from clotting as quickly or as effectively as normal which reduces his risk of having a stroke. Other digital initiatives, such as online GP appointments, also mean it will be easier for him to talk to a doctor with his busy lifestyle.
Mary’s granddaughter Janine is a single parent suffering from anxiety.
As a partnership we are supporting doctors, nurses and other professionals, including social care and mental health, to work in teams around GP practices so Janine can get help locally; for example, through our new primary mental health service. Supporting Janine to stay well will also ensure her daughter gets a better start in life.
And because of our special Devolution agreement which gives us more local responsibility for how we spend our money, we have access to extra funding to invest. For example more specialist diabetes nurses who can support people like Mary both in hospital and at home.
Through initiatives like these, making the most of our freedom to spend money as we think best, organising teams as locally as possible and listening and working with residents, we will be able to help Surrey people live healthier lives and improve the health of the generations to come.