Health Alliance Group Update March 2023

Members from the Health Alliance group met again on Wednesday, 8th March. Due to COVID-related restrictions, the meeting was changed to online. Although the numbers were slightly down on previous meetings, all the members actively contributed a lot of feedback and gave a great representation on behalf of the voluntary sector.

Julie Farrow, CEO of Hunts Forum, again chaired the meeting. Julie gave an update on the ‘Action Log’, which is a log documenting all the actions that have risen from previous Health Alliance group meetings that need further investigation or action on behalf of the group.

It was noted that a good percentage of actions had been completed and archived.  However, more actions are added after each meeting – to read the latest update and find out the group’s current priorities, please email Debbie Drew, our Project Officer (Health)

Representative Boards update

Julie confirmed to the group that the ICB is currently reviewing their Governance regarding the VCSE sector representation at their different boards.   They asked for feedback from VCSE Representatives, which Julie has been able to collate and pass across, highlighting some of the frustrations the representatives have experienced to date.  An example of some of these issues include;

  • The agendas are too long.
  • The papers are hundreds of pages long with too much information to digest.
  • The structure of the boards can be difficult to understand.
  • A lot of the top decisions are already made prior to the meetings.

We continue to have a good number of Representatives feeding back regularly from attending the various ICB boards and committees.  We currently have representation on the following ICS boards & committees.

  • Local People Board
  • Quality, Performance and Finance Committee
  • Commissioning and Investment
  • Supply, Information and Planning Group (sub-group of Local People Board)
  • Health and Inequality Board
  • Improvement and Reform Committee
  • North Partnership
  • South Partnership
  • Children & Maternity Collaborative
  • Mental Health Collaborative

Full details of these reports can be seen on our Health Alliance webpage each month.  Click here to read the latest reports.

Integrated Neighbourhoods update

Debbie gave an update from the Integrated Neighbourhoods – she confirmed that both St Neots and A1 Huntingdon launched recently and are now in place.  They join Fenland, Fenland South and Wisbech Integrated Neighbourhoods.

Debbie updated the group with the great community initiatives & projects which continue to be run by Fenland and Wisbech INTs.

Julie updated the members on the progress of the three key projects and the task-and-finish groups which support them. The ICB funds these projects to help support the Health Alliance’s partnership development activities. These are:

Tackling Inequalities – the task and finish group created a project to look at the ‘ask’ from families within the Oxmoor and Wisbech area. The feedback from this project highlighted two immediate inequalities & needs.

    1. Digital Inequality – older people in Wisbech need technology support & training.
    2. Healthcare Inequality – families in Oxmoor experience a need for Health Visitors and are interested in understanding how to keep children safe.

A third area of inequality was discussed around mobility for the elderly, and a potential future project was signposted.  The project would include ‘chair-based yoga’ lessons.  A tutor has been identified, and the group is already established. Funding to cover an introduction 6-week course has been proposed.

Partnership Development – the task and finish group met recently discussed and agreed the following:

    1.  Frequency of meetings including widening it to other stakeholders – group discussed that while it would be useful to have stakeholders attend it should be by invitation relevant to agenda items. Discussion on potential for in person meeting with stakeholders twice a year
    2. Whilst meetings have been regular with good attendance, we have moved from reactive agenda items to a more structured approach and this was welcomed, it was agreed to leave room on each agenda for ad hoc discussions.
    3. Widening participation and encouraging smaller groups to attend – group discussed a developing a buddying process – large supporting small – similar to the CEO Network
    4. Group discussed the need for Secretariat resource with JF asking to prepare an ‘ask’

At this point in the meeting Julie outlined the secretariat resource ask

    • Programme Director – 14 hours per week = £20k
    • Project Officer – 21 hours per week = £20k
    • Communications – 7 hours per week = £5k
    • Data – 7 hours per month = £5k
    • Representation (refund for time spent at meetings) = £10k

The total ask was £60k which the ICS is supportive of this but had a couple of questions                       which were taken to the T&R Group but are also being brought here.

    1. We will need clarity on the areas of spend for the HA £60,000 with clear expected outcomes and deliverables for this investment, by 20th April
    2. That the funding is underpinned by the VCSE MOU and Strategy which outlines our ways of working, goals, ambitions, and indicators of success.
    3. That we have agreement for one VCSE organisation to hold the £60,000 funding for the Health Alliance on an interim basis before 14 March 2023. This is confirmed in writing to the ICS and this organisation invoices NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough before 14 March 2023 for £60,000.

Julie proposes if no one else is prepared to hold the funds that Hunts Forum continues with this function for the time being.

Those present voted to accept the proposal unanimously.

Securing Funding and External Investment – the task and finish group met recently and reported on the main points raised below;

    1. Funding has been secured to extend and expand the State of the Sector survey to include additional information on health activity and research on how well the VCSE sector is delivering on healthcare services.
    2. Julie will write a brief for an external fundraiser whose role will be to write a ‘fundraising strategy’ on how multiple organisations within the VCSE sector can collaborate and bid for additional funding together.

Potential 4th New project and task & finish group

Julie proposed that the group consider creating a new ‘task and finish’ group to investigate leading a ‘safeguarding’ training certification which can be accessed & recognised across all partners.

More details on how this might work to follow.

Strategic Goals

The meeting continued with Julie updating members on the progress of the second of four strategic goals, as mentioned in the VCSE strategy.

Goal 2 – Embed the VCSE sector as a respected and equal partner in the ICS

Although we have made a lot of inroads in achieving progress in Goal One, it is fair to say we haven’t been able to achieve the same level of progress in achieving our short objectives as highlighted in Goal 2 – Embedding the VCSE sector as a respected and equal partner in the ICS.

The following table shows the areas highlighted in amber and green where we have had success, specifically around representation, data collection and investment in building partnership structures.

However, it was flagged (in red) during the meeting that there were still key areas we still needed to address.  These included.

    • Setting up a training programme to offer confidence skills and encourage more members to become representatives.
    • Overcoming the technical barriers to develop the partnership between VCSE and Health & Social Care
    • Data and information sharing – finding new equal ways of accessing IT systems and data which support improved health and wellbeing.

Julie again reiterated that more participation from the VCSE sector is needed to join the Health Alliance and help raise the group’s profile. If anyone is interested in attending future meetings or knows of anyone else, please email to register.

Julie concluded the meeting by highlighting two funding opportunities which are about to be launched targeting the VCSE sector. These include;

    • Healthier Future Fund – £2m allocated for projects led by VCSE partners.
    • Tackling Prevention & Supporting Community Engagement – £1.2m allocated to the district council for working with Places and VCSE.

The next meeting is scheduled for 12th April between 9.30 am – 11.30 am online.

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