A new report has painted a bleak picture of health and wellbeing in the Morecambe Bay area.
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) has concluded that health and quality of life in the area is amongst the worst in the country, our children are more likely to die young, we drink and smoke too much and too many people die from cancer and coronary heart disease.
Andrew Bennett, chief officer for NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the review was a “wake up call” for communities.
NHS providers have been preparing the plan to improve health across the county and in South Cumbria - while attempting to plug a potential £572m funding gap by 2021.
The report found that there are serious issues within adult social care, the number of “looked after children” in the area is at its highest level for 30 years, and there are increasing incidents of young people self-harming.
Depression is higher than the national average, and the quality of life for people with long-term mental health conditions is poor.
It also found that 27 per cent of people seen by their GP could have had their issue resolved in another way, 25 - 50 per cent of hospital beds are used by people who don’t need to be there, and around 30 per cent of attendances at A&E could have been avoided by receiving support with community or primary care services.
The Carter Review – a review of NHS finances published earlier this year – put forward a number of recommendations for cash savings across the NHS.
Bay Health and Care Partners – the 11 organisations working together to deliver the Better Care Together strategy - say implementing this could save £176m in Lancashire and South Cumbria.
This could include making efficiencies in technology, workforce, partnerships and estates.
Mr Bennett said: “The STP is trying to be honest with people. There are issues within communities that need addressing.
“It’s a wake up call for communities and to think about how we care for people. By working together Bay Health and Care Partners are already producing solutions for sustainable health and care services that meet the needs of the local population, now and well into the future.”
He added that recent improvements had seen health and care professionals working across traditional boundaries to better join up primary, community and secondary care services, working in partnership with local communities to keep people fit and well and helping people manage their own condition - whether at home or in their local community.
Strengthening a new out of hospital model of care with teams working in integrated care communities across Morecambe Bay, supporting long term, chronic conditions, frail elderly and others at risk of hospital admission, is also key.
The plan stated: “If we do nothing different then we will find that demand for health and care services will continue to outstrip the resources we have to deliver them, and our health outcomes will remain poor or possibly deteriorate.
“We are already committed to create a health and care system fit for the future and by doing so ensuring improved health outcomes for the general population and sustainable and affordable health and care services for those people with greatest need.
“We need to continue to strive towards opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce variation and achieve quality standards so that we are not only financially sustainable, but improve the patient experience as well as impact on health outcomes.
“Our population deserve better, our workforce deserve better, we deserve better.”