A NORTH task force made up of health experts and academics has been set up to look at healthy ageing across the North of England.
The Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) group will tie together the latest and best research on ageing across its 15 million population.
The setting up of the group is prescient as research published today (August 8) shows people in the North are 20% more like to die early than Southerners in a growing health divide across the country.
Dr Hakim Yadi OBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Health Science Alliance, said: “It cannot be ignored that the fact the North’s population experiences England’s worst health outcomes.
“Inequalities in the country are striking – and entrenched – yet the North of England has some of the most innovative researchers, centres and practitioners in Europe when it comes to active and healthy ageing, this was recently acknowledged by the European Commission in awarding the North its prestigious 3* reference site status.
“We realise the significant potential and impact of bringing together this expertise into one place and the benefits it could have for healthcare workers and patients across the North of England, and ultimately across Europe.”
Around 135 people from industry, the NHS, commissioning groups, local authorities, third sector organisations, universities and SMEs came together last month to begin a response to the challenge of improving the health and wellbeing of the older population of the North of England.
The meeting was designed and delivered by the newly created AHA North Operations Executive, which includes representatives from each Northern AHA site, and the NHSA, and chaired by Richard Stubbs, Chief Executive Officer of Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).
The group was set up in response to the awarding of three star ‘Reference Site’ status for four North areas from the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. This means the four areas, represented by Greater Manchester AHSN, Innovation Agency North West Coast, North East North Cumbria AHSN and Newcastle University’s Centre for Ageing and Vitality, and Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, have demonstrated an innovative approach to healthy ageing with evidence of the impact of their work on patients’ health.
Richard Stubbs, CEO of Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “We know that one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS is how we address the issues of a growing ageing population and the demands that this makes on health and social care resources.
“It is, therefore, important that we all work together, pooling our expertise across the region so that we can develop and implement care pathways that are not only efficient for the health and care system but also ensure that patients, their families and carers get the support they need to maintain a good quality of life and an appropriate level of independence.”
The Symposium attracted senior level expert speakers, including NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Older People, from across the UK and Europe; giving insights into the state of play of managing the challenges of active and healthy ageing, across the North of England; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and Campania Region of Italy.
Exemplars were presented before attendees were invited to participate in a ‘round-table’ workshop, given opportunity to address and discuss specific ageing health topics, while also dropping into the ‘ideas cloud’, a space designated for ideas and suggestions outside the topics.
Martin Vernon, National Clinical Director for Older People at NHS England, said: “A North collaboration supporting and developing older people’s care at population level gives a way for AHSNs, and other organisations, to collaborate to explore what works. It means people can share learning systems and put innovations into place.
“For the local population the hope is this will help us to achieve our goal of best value for older people with living with multimorbidity and frailty and to help them wherever possible to remain healthy and independent.
“The collaboration raises the profile of active and healthy ageing, which is good news for local populations. Importantly it provides the opportunity for us to lead the way on developing complex health systems that can assist our own country and other countries, to share learning from innovation and best practice for older people across the UK and Europe.”
Click here to read the full report from the meeting.