This is the West Berkshire and Newbury Liberal Democrat response to the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Berkshire West (Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham) published in January 2021.
Due to the nature of our comments, our response uses this formal document rather than using the online survey provided by Berkshire West CCG.
Fundamentally, we consider the proposed strategy doesn’t have a ‘strategy’. It’s priorities have significant overlap, making prioritisation impossible. It is also not clear from the consultation the implications of prioritising one aspect over another. Also, in our view, inequality pervades all aspects covered by the strategy, and we strongly feel reducing inequalities will have significant impact in improving health and wellbeing in Berkshire West. COVID has undoubtedly exposed and increased the impact of health inequality in society, so by failing to recognise and address these inequalities, the strategy will fail the residents of Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham.
The strategy makes no explicit mention of social care. Especially now, after the difficult lessons from the impact of COVID over the last year, this is a serious omission. The lessons from the impact of COVID on the vulnerable in care homes including the need for better trained and higher status staff, must be learned and incorporated into any 10 year strategy.
The strategy also misses the impact of cultural aspects of society on health and wellbeing, for example, maintaining and improving the health and wellbeing of people in Berkshire West for whom English is not their first language.
Finally, we believe a joined up approach to health and social care, particularly at an operational level, must be central to the delivery of a long term strategy. The February 2021 White Paper, ‘Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’ must be reflected in Berkshire West’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
Our detailed response below expands on the health and wellbeing of the vulnerable, older people, young people and families and mental health. For us, these must equal top priority in the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Berkshire West.
You can read the document in full below.