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February 21, 2023

Creating Health and Wealth By Stealth

That intransigence referred to in today’s intro is everywhere. While Healthy Options, based in Oban, is literally turning lives around and relieving untold pressure on NHS budgets and staff, its contribution remains inexplicably and firmly under the radar. At a national level, the organisation that supports the country’s largest men’s health network – Scottish Men’s Sheds Association – may close its doors next month for want of an amount that should be easily affordable. As if it were needed, a new report just published by England’s Locality, on the impact of community anchors on local health and wellbeing provides more evidence.


Creating Health and Wealth By Stealth


Creating health and wealth by stealth explores the role of large, well established community organisations in promoting good health and preventing disease in their neighbourhoods. Working with 20 CAOs across England and 10 service designers and commissioners across local, regional, and national health systems, we found four distinct areas of learning:

  • Maximising good practice – across pandemic partnerships learning, peer-led health promotion, and co-location of clinical services in CAO settings.
  • Finding the right delivery approach – including ‘Integrated Health and Wellbeing Services’, and social prescribing.
  • Achieving collaborative commissioning – through inclusivity and cultural competence, asset-based community development, and capacity and capability building.
  • Measuring outcomes usefully – by understanding the impact of services on the wider determinants of health, and collecting data and monitoring impact in a meaningful way.

The report contains real-life examples demonstrating good practice across these four areas that can be repeated across the country. But there are also warnings of the pitfalls that threaten this progress.

We present 12 recommendations for the health system across the four areas above – at Primary Care Network, Integrated Care System, local authority, and national level. If embraced, these can help capture the significant and sustainable impact that CAOs have on the health and wellbeing of local people. We have also developed a set of five recommendations for CAOs themselves. These aim to support the increase of their involvement in health system prevention services, including by:

  • Understanding and communicating to the health system the value of the CAO approach for the wider determinants of health
  • Find the right contacts within Integrated Care Partnerships
  • Connecting with local Primary Care Networks
  • Tackling local priorities with other VCSE partners
  • Demonstrating their ability to meet the rigours of current health system contracts