CLOSER joint working between Reading Borough Council, NHS South Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS North and West Reading CCG is helping to identify key opportunities to provide healthier outcomes for children, young people and families.
A detailed report going to the next meeting of the Health and Well Being Board on Friday September 20th outlines important opportunities identified over the summer, when representatives from CCGs and the Director of Public Health visited the Council's Children's Centres to see for themselves the broad range of activities and services provided.
Reading Borough Council has 13 Children's Centres in total located across the town and providing easy access for families to a range of services. Despite the difficult budget situation, the Council has kept all 13 centres open, in recognition of the vital role they play for parents and children.
The September 20th report sets out a number of opportunities for closer joint working. These include:
- Improving understanding of support for families across GPs and children's services
- Better promotion of services to parents through GP surgeries
- Providing health-related resources in each of the Council's 13 Children's Centres, including working with health visitors and midwives in Children's Centres.
- Promoting support available to families consistently at the many contacts they have with health services and the local authority in their child's early life
- Working together to promote immunisations for children, especially in targeted areas where this is a priority
The proposal is for a working group of key members across the Council and the CCGs to be set up to produce a project plan outlining the strands of activity and progress. An update will then go to a future meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board.
The joint working approach runs in parallel with the Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2013-16, particularly the aims of "increasing the focus on early years and the whole family to help reduce health inequalities" and "promoting and protecting the health of all communities particularly those disadvantaged".
Jan Gavin, Lead Councillor for Children's Services at Reading Borough Council, said:
"Reading has 13 Children's Centres and I know from speaking to parents of young children what an important resource they can be for families. Despite on-going challenges with the budget, all 13 Children's Centres remain open and I am delighted to see these proposals come forward, which will add an additional and important support services for parents and families."
Graeme Hoskin, Lead Councillor for Health, added:
"At times like this it is more important than ever that we make the best possible use of every resource on offer. Bringing extra layers of vital health support services to Reading's 13 Children's Centres, and using them as a resource to promote existing health services, makes complete sense. I am certain it is an initiative that will prove to be effective over time and appreciated by all health providers, as well as parents and young families across the town."
Dr Rod Smith, Chair, NHS North and West Reading CCG, said:
"Closer working ensures that services are provided in a joined-up way that works for people and their families. It also avoids duplication of resources, leading to greater all round efficiency. For instance, Children Centres are an excellent platform to reach young families."
Dr Elizabeth Johnston, Chair, NHS South Reading CCG, said:
"Good services for young children, with early identification of needs and timely support for those who need it, mean that children can progress and do well in later life. There are many services available to help children and families, but people do not always know what is available at the time they need them, and services are not always well co-ordinated, streamlined or consistently available to families. Joint and closer working is a way forward."