A key aspect of PHE’s vision is the recognition that our work on improving and protecting health and on reducing health inequalities is best done in partnership with others: no one organisation can deliver in isolation our society’s ambitions for the public’s health. In the East Midlands, one of our earliest priorities was to carry out a stocktake of existing work across the public health system, with a view to retaining those initiatives and programmes that were clearly adding value. As a result, we made an early commitment to continue the work of the East Midlands Platform for Health and Wellbeing. PHE took over the co-ordination and hosting arrangements for The Platform from East Midlands Councils, retaining a steering group which continues to be the driving force behind The Platform’s work. Established in 2009, The Platform is the only one of its kind in the country and is, essentially, a partnership with the shared aim of improving health and wellbeing in the East Midlands. There are currently in excess of 50 members – ranging from large national companies to smaller local businesses. Members include Slimming World, British Gas, E.ON, Pepsico, NHS organisations, local authorities, third sector organisations and academic institutions. The strength of The Platform lies in its collaborative approach and the commitment of its members. Upon joining The Platform, each member makes a commitment to delivering improvements to health and wellbeing. A requirement of the commitment is that it must be something that is over and above the day to day work of the organisation. There are many examples of good work arising from The Platform, such as:
- The opportunity for members to share their experiences has fostered innovations in service delivery. For example, Slimming World has piloted workplace weight management programmes with other Platform members, thereby enabling Slimming World to evaluate the methodology while providing a free service to the host organisation’s employees.
- Through its membership, The Platform has access to activity and outcome data across a range of services. This will help to improve our understanding of the profile of service users and will help in the evaluation of a range of lifestyle services provided by the independent sector and public sector.
- Networking has allowed best practice to be shared across the membership, supported by keynote speakers providing evidence and examples to support the aims of The Platform
- Without the Platform many of the members may not have had a sufficiently focussed health improvement programme for their staff
- The Platform has supported the development of a healthy workplace network, which can now be used to support a regional excellence award for business
Earlier this year, I was delighted to accept the invitation to be the Chairman for The Platform. In this capacity I look forward to continuing to give my personal support to the work of the partnership as an exemplar in collaborative working to improve the public’s health in the East Midlands. As the African proverb reminds us: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. For more details about the Platform, please contact Ann Goodwin, or visit http://www.regionalplatform.org.uk (Please note that the website is being updated and refreshed so some of the content may be out of date). From our work in the East Midlands, we have clear examples of collaborative working between the private and public sector to improve the public's health. Have you done something similar? We would be interested in examples of collaborations from elsewhere to help us develop future local initiatives. Featured image copyright Platform for Health and Wellbeing. Used with permission.