Making steps to building a healthier future

2nd Aug 2013

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals (SWBH) NHS Trust welcomed Richard Douglas, Director General, Strategy and Finance at NHS England, at a health inequalities and regeneration awareness event at the Learning Works on Tuesday. The event focused on the Trust’s upcoming plans for health improvement in the communities it serves.

The Midland Metropolitan Hospital (MMH) is expected to be a major catalyst for regeneration in the local area, which will ultimately improve the lives of our local community. There are a number of ways regeneration will happen, including providing construction jobs, replacing poor estate in the Smethwick area and releasing parts of the City and Sandwell hospital sites for redevelopment.

Graham Seager, Director of Facilities/New Hospital project at SWBH, said: “We have been working closely with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and Birmingham City Council to maximise the regeneration benefits of the procurement, and part of the criteria for evaluating bidders will rest on their regeneration plans.

“The focus tends to be on the MMH and although this is key to the Trust’s health improvement plans for the local community, it is only one part of what we are trying to achieve locally.”

The Learning Works is a community-based gateway dedicated to helping local people access employment in the health sector via a range of work experience, apprenticeship, volunteering and adult learning opportunities.

The Learning Works moved into its Smethwick premises in October 2012 in order to be able to build links with the local community, and since then has embarked on a journey to increase the number of apprentices, with the opportunity of a permanent job at the end of the scheme.

Jim Pollitt, Head of Learning and Development at SWBH, said: “The apprentice framework has been a success, and has seen 78 apprentices gain a permanent contract within the Trust. Due to the success of the model, it has since been communicated across seven other NHS trusts, with the hope of replicating this model across the Black Country. As part of a three year plan, it is hoped that all seven trusts will then be delivering what we’re doing.

Jim explained the next step in the Trust’s health inequalities and regeneration work: “Our next step is the homeless prevention project. This pilot will include the regeneration of a building to provide accommodation for those that are on the apprentice scheme. This ambitious project, with the support of partner organisations, should hopefully be up and running in the next nine months.

“There aren’t many projects out there that offer young homeless people the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification and secure employment, while being provided with accommodation by the employer, so this approach will have a real impact on the young homeless people from the area.”

Toby Lewis, Chief Executive at SWBH, said: “The new hospital is just one piece in a much bigger jigsaw; it is important that the building fits the local authorities’ health inequalities and regeneration strategy and not the other way around. This means doing real work now that is relevant to the long-term story of what we can do in the community.

“This is ground-breaking work for the NHS and we are committed to trying to reach out to previously excluded groups.”

Following the event Richard Samuda, Trust Chair, accompanied Richard Douglas and other guests to the nearby new hospital site to highlight the final piece of the Trust’s community health improvement jigsaw.


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