THE ageing and growing population in Thurrock – and across the country – means it makes sense for councils and the local NHS to work together more closely.
That was the message health portfolio holder Cllr Barbara Rice gave Thurrock Council’s cabinet on Wednesday (19 March) evening, speaking about the Better Care Fund.
She was speaking about the Better Care Fund – a merging of some council social care and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funds.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Rice explained: “We can expect a rise in age-related disease and potentially increased demand on health and social care services over the coming years.
“Dementia, for example, is predicted to increase steeply in Thurrock – by 2033 the population aged 85 or more is projected to double.
“Long-term conditions like dementia and diabetes are more prevalent in older people and account for half of all GP appointments and are estimated to account for £7 in every £10 spent on health and social care.”
She said: “Lifestyle factors are having a significant impact on the demand for health and social care services in Thurrock.
“For example, 22 per cent – over a fifth – of Thurrock adults are smokers, with smoking-related deaths significantly higher than the national averages.
“Over a quarter of Year 6 children and 28.1 per cent of adults are classified as obese – both significantly higher than the England averages which made it all the more important that we finally got our rightful allocation of public health funding here in Thurrock – the £1.1 million.”
Members were told Thurrock was already working in innovate and cross-council ways to ensure Thurrock can meet the health and care needs of local people – the Building Positive Futures project for example where the planning, housing, health and social care teams co-ordinate to create the homes and neighbourhoods that will be capable of supporting people’s independent health and wellbeing.
Elizabeth Gardens is another example of “new ways of planning housing for ageing well”, she said.
“The purpose of the Better Care Fund is to transform local services so local people are provided with better care and support,” she added. “This isn’t new money and is already in the system – although a small additional amount will be available for the transition, but equates to just over £10½ million in Thurrock – made up of money from the NHS and the council.”
Cllr Rice also highlighted Thurrock’s “poor outcomes for cardiovascular and cancer, with residents living – on average – seven years shorter lives, although outcomes for respiratory disease, alcohol and liver disease have improved”.
She concluded: “We have 42 GP practice locations in Thurrock; there are 21 dental practices, 18 opticians’ and 32 pharmacies.
“Thurrock is under-doctored and this is being addressed at both national and local level, through a new primary care strategy.”